Kathmandu, May 17
The government’s ban on the sale and purchase of arable land for plotting has driven many real estate agents out of business and also caused land prices to skyrocket in the valley.
The Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation had, on January 11, relaxed some restrictions on land plotting, but not agriculture land.
Banbari Sah, who used to work as a real estate agent in Kalanki area, said the government’s land use policy, particularly its decision to ban plotting of agriculture land violated people’s right to property. “Why should the government prohibit people from selling and purchasing land?” He added that many people who had invested on land were regretting their decision now as they were unable to sell their land.
“The central government has told the local levels to categorise land under their jurisdiction, but none of the local levels have done that,” he said, adding that even financial institutions which had lent money to real estate agents were at risk of losing their money due to the ban on sale and purchase of arable land for plotting. “I had a good real estate business a few years ago, but today I am unemployed,” Sah said, adding that the government needed to reverse its decision.
Sah said it would be better if the local levels were allowed to plot the land. “Local levels can develop people’s land and hand over plots to them after setting criteria for use of those plots,” he said.
Another real estate agent Raj Kumar Maharjan said the government’s recent polices were affecting real-estate business, which in turn had affected people’s right to housing.
Ban on plotting of arable land has led to unprecedented rise in the price of land, which means middle income families and middle level government employees cannot buy land plots for housing in the periphery of the capital city, he argued.
Maharajan said ban on plotting of arable land and some other restrictive policies had forced many real estate agencies out of business. “I lost almost 75 per cent of my business in the last five years,” he said.
Spokesperson of Kathmandu metropolis Ishwar Man Dangol said his office had not discussed the issue of categorisation of land yet, but would do so very soon as people were visiting the metropolis with their grievances.
Under-secretary at the Ministry of Land Management Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Anil Marasini said it was up to the local levels to form technical committees to earmark arable land, which real estate agents would be barred from plotting. The government banned plotting of arable land as it had the obligation to ensure people’s right to food and right to food sovereignty. “The government believes that if it can prevent haphazard plotting of arable land, it can still protect enough agriculture land and that could help produce enough grains in the county to feed the population,” he added.
A version of this article appears in print on May 18, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.