settlers prefer valley outskirts

Pollution, crowds and concretisation are driving wealthy people out of the city to adjoining Village Development Committees (VDCs) in the Kathmandu valley. Permission to construct out of town is much simpler in the VDCs than within the confines of Kathmandu Metropolitan Corporation. At the same time, farming lands are constantly being squeezed by such haphazard and unmonitored construction.

Officials are working on a plan to reserve some areas to cope with unplanned urban sprawl, said a source at Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee (KVTDC). "A plan is in the offing to reserve nine village areas in long term preparation for a well managed expansion of towns in the Kathmandu valley," he said.

The committee thinks that such a step will help a clear demarcation of rural and urban areas of the valley to emerge and also will conserve land for farming. "This will further ensure the possibility of investment into service delivery systems like water, power and telephone," said the source, adding that the committee will prepare such infrastructures by 2020.

Initially, the committee has decided to reserve lands at Tusal in Kirtipur Municipality, Wards-4, 6 and 9 of Ichangu VDC, Manamaiju VDC, Nepaltar and Kapan VDC. A total of 247 hectares of land will be conserved as ‘green belt’ for farming, by preventing buying, selling or construction of any buildings in those designated areas.

Similarly, 138 hectares will be booked in Nayapati and Gothatar VDCs and Kamal Binayak of Bhaktapur Municipality. Similarly, lands in Harisiddhi, Thaiba and Imadol will also be retained for future town planning.

However, the prospect of the plan is not that advanced so far, said a town development official. Access from these areas to central Kathmandu is one of the vital factors for the implementation of the plan. Until the completion of the ‘not-yet-started’, but ‘much talked about’ external ring-road in the valley, these ‘future-towns’ will not have proper links to the city.

The concept of an outer ring-road seems to be history, judging the manner in which its files are gathering dust in the concerned ministry’s folder. “The road plan has been defined only as an idea, nothing can happen unless the government itself initiates the plan,” the town planner explains.

For a decade now, a large number of posh residential buildings have been built in these areas, followed by a hike in the price of land. Such new residences have also been pumping out a limitless amount of groundwater without any monitoring method or regulations. “If shifting from the city to VDCs goes on at this rate, without serious monitoring, the capital valley will have no land left for cultivation,” it said.