A mere concept

For an earthquake prone region, Kathmandu Valley is sprawling at an alarming rate. Soon, the city might resemble Los Angeles with its rows upon rows of blockhouses extending in every direction, minus, of course, basic amenities like clean drinking water and proper sewage facilities. The Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee (KVTDC) saw it coming. In 2001, the Kathmandu Valley Development Concept-2020 was drafted. The aim was to strike right balance between limited resources and breakneck expansion. Stalling rapid environment degradation was also in the agenda.

The concept never took off. As a result, three-and-a-half decades of “planned urbanisation” has been rendered useless even as the unholy nexus between top government officials, bureaucrats and land brokers blossoms. Plots are being chopped up and traded at sky-high prices with blatant disregard of collective land development initiatives. KVTDC, for its part, does not have the wherewithal to coordinate with local authorities (roles of KVTDC, and local authorities under the Local Self-Governance Act 1998 often overlap). The concept had envisioned Kathmandu as Nepal’s cultural and tourism hub. Checking rampant corruption in bureaucracy and instituting planned, all-around development were at the top of CPN-Maoist poll agenda. The ball is in its court.