High-level commission begins work

Kathmandu, June 3

The high-level commission to investigate cases of land grab and misuse of public land formally began its operations setting up its office in Singha Durbar today.

Members of the commission, including its chief Mohan Raman Bhattarai, Janaki Ballav Adhikari, Durga Kumari Dahal and Jagat Bahadur Deuja had taken the oath of office and secrecy on May 29.

The commission first plans to ascertain the status of public land, land belonging to or acquired/seized by the government, and guthi land. Fort this, the commission is presently studying past study reports and news reports published in newspapers and holding discussions with experts and stakeholders.

The commission’s Chair Bhattarai said it would publish a public notice tomorrow seeking information about cases of grabbing and misuse of public land. “We will begin formal investigation once we ascertain the exact status of public land,” he said.

The commission, which has been mandated to submit a report in six months, plans to prepare case-wise report and submit them to the government as they get completed and submit a comprehensive report at the end of its tenure.

The commission’s member Janaki Ballav Adhikari said they would also make recommendations for reforms. “For that, we will publish a public notice a month after seeking advice on measures to be adopted for bringing about reforms in land management,” he said.

A Cabinet meeting on May 20 had decided to form an all-powerful high-level commission led by Mohan Raman Bhattarai following numerous public land grab cases that came to the fore after a government-formed committee concluded that 113 ropani public land in Baluwatar area were illegally transferred in the names of individuals.

As per the commission’s terms of reference, it will study possible land grabs or misuse of land plots acquired by the government at different times across the country in public interest, and recommend necessary action to recover such land plots. It will also study possible misappropriation of land plots owned by guthis across the country and recommend necessary action.

The commission will recommend to the government what kind of action should be taken against individuals, office bearers or institutions facilitating or involved in grab or misuse of land owned by the government and guthis, and land acquired or confiscated by the government.

It will ascertain why recommendations made by such commissions in the past in relation to conservation of government-owned and public land plots could not be implemented and recommend their implementation.

The commission will also recommend reforms — policy, laws, process, technology and structural reforms — in the area of land management, and advise how government documents of public importance could be kept safe for future reference.

The commission has been allocated 15 staffers besides its members.

As per the commission’s working procedure, it will gather information it needs within its jurisdiction from the general public, authorities concerned and stakeholders.

It will collect necessary related documents from the government offices concerned, units or individuals.

It will study and analyse the acquired information and documents.

The commission will also make on-site study and monitor and interrogate or consult government officials, individuals, or experts to ascertain the truth.

The commission, however, will not study the Baluwatar land-grab case as necessary investigation into the case has already been done by a government committee, and the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority and the Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police are presently looking into the case for further investigation.

The government has suspected possible grab/misuse of public land plots and those owned by government, guthis, airport, universities, irrigation projects, banks, sports fields and multi-purpose buildings, across the country.

Terms of reference

• Ascertain the status of public and guthi land

• Investigate possible land grab or misuse of public land across the country

• Recommend actions to be taken

• Recommend reforms in policy, laws, process, technology and structural reforms

• Won’t investigate Baluwatar land grab case