The Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration has issued a circular to all the local levels, directing them to maintain accurate record of government, public, and community land within their respective areas.

According to the circular posted on the website of the MoFAGA, the local levels will also be required to publish records of government, public and community lands in their website. The records will include plot number of lands, area and present condition.

"The local levels are requested to collect and maintain land records in coordination and collaboration with the respective district administration offices, survey offices and land revenue offices," the circular reads.

An official at the MoFAGA said this circular followed a recent letter from the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, which warned that it was receiving complaints about the growing trend of plotting in government and public lands without permission, merging such lands with new maps of private land, overlapping in newly registered maps, unauthorised land seizure and encroachment, and sale or purchase of lands belonging to the government.

As per the anti-graft body, the lands mainly situated in cities and registered in the name of government offices, departments, ministries, public corporations, companies, academies, universities, and schools are being targeted by racketeers amid growing urbanisation and their soaring value.

The CIAA has been conducting investigation into many cases of land grab and encroachment.

The constitution and existing laws empower the district administration offices and local levels to protect government, public and community lands, while maintaining their records in an orderly manner to ensure that they are not misused.

Cases of land grab are on the rise in urban areas, including Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur. The lands on either side of rivers and rivulets are targeted in particular. In some instances, racketeers collude with government authorities to register public land in the name of individuals.

A version of this article appears in the print on April 6, 2022, of The Himalayan Times.