‘Land acquisition process hindering development’

Kathmandu, September 27

Chief Attorney of Gandaki Province Rajendra Ghimire said recent change in Land Acquisition Act, 1977, curtailed the provincial governments’ power to use or acquire public land for development projects.

The new law says if provincial government wants to acquire land or use public land, it should write a proposal and send it to the federal government for approval.

“We have sent some applications but they have not been approved yet by the federal government,” Ghimire said, adding that provincial governments should have sole authority on the issues that are under their jurisdiction.

Section 3 (a) of Land Acquisition Act states, “When concerned provinces and local levels need to acquire land for their projects, they can write applications to the federal government committing to pay compensation and other necessary expenses after which the Government of Nepal can take a decision allowing the concerned province and local levels to acquire the land.” This provision was incorporated following amendment to the Land Acquisition Act, on 3 March 2019.

Ghimire said provincial governments had not been able to transfer the ownership of the office of the Chief Minister of Gandaki province and Chief Attorney’s Office as federal government had not given its nod to the province government’s application. “I am not saying a particular power should remain with particular type of government. What I am saying is all tiers of governments should be allowed to exercise power in a way that enable them to deliver service to the public in an effective manner,” he added.

Ghimire said provinces could enact their laws to govern the process of land acquisition, but those laws should not contradict with the federal laws. “We saw that Province 2 enacted its own police law before the federal government brought an umbrella law governing police administration. Thus, its law could not be enforced as it contradicted with the federal law. Our constitution expects coordination and cooperation between the three tiers of governments and all should be ready to act as per the spirit of the constitution.”

Though provincial governments allocate budget for certain projects, they cannot carry out their projects within stipulated time due to complication in land acquisition process, Ghimire argued.

Province 2 Chief Attorney Dipendra Jha said the province government had signed a contract with Chaudhary Group to generate 200 MW solar energy but it had not been able to provide the required land to Chaudhary Group despite the latter’s repeated reminder for the same.

Jha said provincial governments had the power to use public land particularly guthi (Trust) land but they had not been able to do that due to federal government’s failure to handover power to the provincial governments. “Provinces’ have adequate public land but they were not able to use those land plots due to federal government’s failure to take decisions,” Jha added.

Chief Attorney of Province 3 Om Prasad Thapaliya said provinces had been facing problems in acquiring land for provincial projects mainly because they had not made their own laws.

“Both the federal and provincial governments have the power to acquire law for development projects, but none of the provinces has enacted its own laws,” he said and added that due to non-enactment of provincial laws, province could not carry out their development projects if they needed to acquire land for those projects.