DHANGADHI: A settlement of freed haliyas (agricultural bonded labourers) is at risk in Doti district.
Jay Bahadur Koli, a freed haliya had bought 10 aana land in Silgadhi of Dipayal Silgadhi Municipality-6, Doti with a sum of Rs 200,000 obtained from Freed Haliya Rehabilitation Programme. He built a house on the land with an added sum of Rs 325,000 granted from the programme. However, he doesn’t live there.
Likewise, another freed haliya Prasad Koli bought a land near Jay Bahadur’s and built a two-room house with Rs 427,500 received from the programme, but he too has yet to live there. Similarly, Harka Bahadur Koli too followed suit and bought land and built a two-room house with Rs 525,000 from the programme, but does not stay there.
Not only them, but seven others have yet to shift to their new homes built in a similar manner. Due to the houses being constructed on landslide prone land, they fear for their lives. Even a campaigner of the Haliya Mukti Movement, Dammar BK, bought one ropani nine aana land in the same vicinity and has not built a house there.
Last year, there were only five persons to buy land in the area but this year another five have acquired land there. They have already taken the first installment of the grant and are preparing to build house, according to Sunil Sagar Joshi, Chief of Land Revenue Office (LRO), Doti. He further added that, 70 per cent of the grant money is given as first installment while the remaining 30 per cent is provided after the completion of work.
Why build a house in such a perilous place? Freed haliya Jay Bahadur Koli answered that in the small amount of money provided by the government, they are unlikely to find a good place, so they have to make-do with cheap and hazardous land. Safe and good locales cost more than they can afford.
Jay Bahadur said that the patio of his new residence was swept away by the landslide and is in dire need of wall which would cost around Rs 500,000, and that they could move in only after its construction.
After a long agitation, the Government of Nepal announced the haliya freed with guarantee of rehabilitation in 2065 and 151 freed haliya have received grant from the programme in the six years since the rehabiliation started, informed Nari Chunara, supervisor at the Freed Haliya Rehabilitation Programme. However, he said that there is no record of how many freed haliyas who received government rehabilitation packages are living in their own homes.
As per the programme procedure, haliyas are free to choose the location of their land. However, despite being advised against buying land in such hazardous location, the freed haliyas insist on acquiring land in the same location to form a settlement, even if that meant they would have to do without basic infrastructures, according to Doti LRO Chief Joshi.