Locals’ land freed from royal grip

Kathmandu, May 24:

About 300 locals of Balkot VDC-9 in Bhaktapur today got back their land and property — which had been turned into a King’s trust — after the Land Reforms and Management Department (LRMD) and the Bhaktapur Land Revenue Office (BLRO) nullified the order issued by the royal palace to register the plots of land and the houses of 300 locals as shree panchko sewa veerta (the king’s trust).

Last year, a secretary of the Royal palace Pradee Kumar Aryal had written to the authorities to register the property as shree panchko sewa veerta.

Following the order, the then BLRO chief Kapil Dangol had frozen the land and houses belonging to the locals and registered it as shree panchko sewa veerta.

The order ended the 125-year dispute over the ownership of the land.

“Since there was no ground to freeze the public property only on the basis of an order from the royal palace, we refused to recognise the land and the property as shree panchko sewa veerta and recognised the local landowners as the true owners,” Khadga Gurung, section officer of the LRMD, told journalists and locals following the decision.

Though the locals had purchased the land and built houses on it over a decade ago, the royal palace, immediately after the February 1 takeover, had ordered the authorities to recognise the plots as shree panchko sewa veerta.

Demanding that they be given back their land and property, hundreds of locals gheraoed the LRMD yesterday and pressed its director-general Tirtha Prasad Leegal to roll back the decision made earlier by the BLRO. “Immediately after consultations with the locals, the chief of BLRO Govinda Sapkota scrapped the royal palace directive and gave us back the ownership of the land and property,” Nawananda Neupane said.

“Some of the royalists and land mafia had provoked the royal palace to capture public property, reviving the veerta system, which was abolished 50 years ago,” said advocate Uddahav Chaulagain.