Kathmandu, April 27

Following widespread criticism from various quarters over encroachment of public land, Nepal police with the support of Municipal Police of Kathmandu Metropolitan City vacated illegally built structures at Khula Manch today.

All 52 illegal stalls erected for commercial purpose at Khula Manch, were brought down. The task was undertaken under the leadership of Chief District Officer Ram Prasad Acharya of Kathmandu.

Jurisdiction of such structures was under the local body.

It is also learnt that the CDO took the initiative of ridding Khula Manch of illegal structures following a direct order from Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli last night.

Nepali Congress leader Bhimsen Das Pradhan told The Himalayan Times that without the PM’s order, the task of bringing down those structures would not be accomplished within such a short time.

Mayor of KMC Bidhya Sundar Shakya was also present at the site. Shakya, however left the scene before the excavators were mobilised to demolish the illegal structures.

Earlier, a number of social activists and locals, after staging protest at Khula Manch, had submitted a memorandum to KMC’s Deputy Mayor Hari Prabha Khadgi demanding demolition of the illegal structures.

Apparently, the builder who was provided the contract to build Kathmandu View Tower at Old Bus Park, Ratna Park, had built the stalls to rent them out to private vendors.

The contractor, Jaleshwor Sochhanda Bkoi Builders Pvt Ltd, was provided the land for facilitating construction work at Old Bus Park on 6 April 2017.

The structures were built by encroaching 13.5 ropani public land.

The contractor was granted permission by KMC to build some fundamental structures at Khula Manch, such as a restaurant, a health facility, couple of toilets and two bus stands. Using the same loophole, the contractor had built the additional structures.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Khadgi today got caught up in a difficult situation after angry owners whose shops were bulldozed demanded reimbursement for their loss.

Deputy Mayor Khadgi, who is also the head of the monitoring committee of the local body, had reached the site after the excavator had already cleared it.

Khadgi immediately caught the attention of mediapersons when she reached the site and started talking to shop owners.

Angry shop owners started shouting at her, demanding reimbursement. Some women were heard using abusive words and some even tried to attack her.

Khadgi was escorted to her vehicle by police personnel while shopkeepers followed her up to the vehicle. Khadgi, however was unharmed.

Sources told THT that those shopkeepers had paid amounts ranging from Rs 500,000 to Rs 1.5 million to middlemen for securing the stalls. However, shopkeepers were reluctant to speak about the deal.

A woman who had just started a fancy store at a stall said, on condition of anonymity, that she had paid Rs 800,000 to some people to secure the place. She, however, said no paper work was involved in the deal. She claimed that all the shopkeepers had submitted money to a middleman to secure their stalls.

She also said the stall which was not larger than five feet by five feet was rented out to her at Rs 15,000 per month.

NC leader Pradhan demanded that the government must support shopkeepers if they had become victims of thugs.

Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Khadgi told THT that she was unaffected by the abusive words hurled at her by the shopkeepers. “I stand by the rule of law, and will not retreat from my mission to clear the encroached area at Khula Manch,” She added.