Kathmandu, March 22

The Supreme Court’s verdict directing the government to compensate affected locals for houses and land along the Tripureshwor-Kalanki-Nagdhunga stretch while expanding the road along the particular section, is likely to escalate the cost of road expansion by 10 times.

The expansion cost of the 12.5-kilometre road section that included only the compensation for houses was expected to be around Rs 1.64 billion. But following yesterday’s verdict, the cost will escalate to almost Rs 16.39 billion, Bhaikaji Tiwari, development commissioner of Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, told THT.

A five-member grand full bench of the Supreme Court yesterday quashed the government’s petition that sought leave to file a review petition against the apex court’s previous verdicts ordering the government to duly compensate people affected by the government’s decision to expand the Tripureshwor-Kalanki-Nagdhunga road section.

The refusal order was passed by a five-member grand full bench of the apex court comprising justices Meera Khadka, Bishwambhar Prasad Shrestha, Anil Kumar Sinha, Sapana Pradhan Malla and Tanka Bahadur Moktan.

The SC passed the order in response to 33 petitions filed by government bodies, including KVDA, against the defendants. The government bodies filed the petition after the SC upheld that the government could acquire an individual’s land for public use but it must duly compensate the affected parties.

The apex court had upheld this in a case filed by 47 locals, including Sanu Shrestha, against the government’s decision to expand the Tripureshwor-Kalanki-Nagdhunga road without paying compensation for land to the affected parties. The government had decided to expand the road by three metres on either side.

The apex court had also directed the government to compensate the affected parties and simultaneously continue road expansion as halting the work was creating problems for the public and causing environmental pollution.

In the case filed by 47 individuals, the  apex court observed that the government had paid compensation for land to individuals four decades ago when it expanded the road, but the same rules were not followed this time when  a decision to expand the road was taken by the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport on 11 December 2014.

The SC also asked the government to settle land disputes through dialogue.

It observed that expanding roads without paying compensation to the affected parties would violate their right to property.

The apex court’s verdict to this effect is certain to set a precedent in all the road expansion projects across the country, including the 400-kilometre road expansion project in Kathmandu valley initiated by KVDA.

“If we are to compensate in this manner to all the affected locals in the 400-kilometre road expansion project, the compensation amount will cross over Rs 100 billion,” Tiwari told THT, adding that the authority will act as per the direction of the government following the apex court’s verdict.