NGO drafting bill for welfare of squatters

Kathmandu, November 18:

With the objectives of resettling the squatters living in the Kathmandu valley and providing them permanent shelters and employment opportunities, a non-governmental organisation is drafting a bill.

Lumanti Support for Shelter is drafting the bill with the the objectives of bringing the squatters’ settlements within legal bounds, providing shelter and employment

to squatters.

According to an estimate, over 1,200 squatters’ families live in 60 slum areas in the Kathmandu Valley alone. Community representatives, social workers, planners and government officials took part in an interaction held here today to discuss the draft of the bill. The bill identifies landless people living on public land on temporary basis as squatters.

The bill envisages the formation of a Central Squatters’ Follow-Up and Management Committee under the chairmanship of minister of land reformation and management. The committee will prepare database of the squatters, find out open land for them and look for resources for their rehabilitation. The district committees, under the guidance of the central committee, will distribute land to them. Those why try to acquire land by falsely identifying themselves as squatters will be punished accordingly. Squatters will be humanely evacuated from public land and a fund will be set up to rehabilitate them.

The bill intends to sell allocated lands to the squatters at a quarter of the real price of the land.

“The squatters should be given land for shelter,” Surya Bhakta Sangachhe, deputy director-general, Department of Housing and Urban Development, adding: Except for shelter, the government can lease them some more land on lease so as to make sure they won’t be able to sell it.

Noting that even even well-off people may claim on public land by identifying themselves as squatters, Amrit Man Shrestha, former joint-secretary, Ministry of Physical Planning, said action should be taken against such people.

Hutaram Baidhya, a social worker, said the squatters should be resettled out of the municipalities so that they can acquire more land and do some business for livelihood. Communities should get involved in infrastructure development in those areas, he said.

Stating that Lumanti began drafting the bill two years ago, Mahendra Shakya of Lumanti said the NGO had held talks with affected communities.

“If the House is not restored by the time the bill is drafted, we will ask the government to promulgate it as an ordinance,” he said.