Nepal | April 09, 2020

EDITORIAL: Relocation plan

The Himalayan Times

There is no doubt that compensation to be provided to the land owners should be reasonable that is equal to the market price and not a price set arbitrarily by the authorities

The Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM) says that it has shortened many processes for land acquisition so as to facilitate the relocation and rehabilitation of the victims of the devastating earthquakes of April and May of 2015 for which it has already drafted a work procedure. The OPMCM is assisting the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) in carrying out the reconstruction and rehabilitation works and it has forwarded the draft to the NRA. The draft makes provisions for the work procedure that would apply for the land acquisition process concerning the post-reconstruction works to be carried out by the NRA. Consultations would be held with the NRA as soon as possible for this purpose. Incidentally the provisions of the work procedure would amend the provisions of the Land Acquisition Act 1977. This work procedure would then be sent to the Cabinet for approval.

The delay in the appointment of the CEO of the NRA has already cost the country dear. If the work procedure is endorsed by the Cabinet the CEO will be provided with the authority to take the majority of decisions dealing with land acquisition. The CEO of the NRA will then have a final say on land acquisition after it has been identified. The present procedure of acquiring land is complex at the moment as the Chief District Officers (CDOs) are entrusted with the task to start the process of land acquisition and then only a public notice to this effect is issued. This is taking a very long time as a result of which the earthquake victims have been suffering for long. It is expected that after empowering the NRA CEO he can go ahead with the much delayed post-earthquake reconstruction works of acquiring private land. Meanwhile, the NRA is thinking over relocating around 143 settlements that were destroyed by the earthquakes. It also plans to build smart cities, towns and villages of the various districts that have been badly hit the earthquakes. However, the acquisition of private land has remained as one of the major obstacles in this bid. The work procedure seeks to make it easier to provide compensation for the owners of such land which is now getting to be very complicated.

There is no doubt that the compensation to be provided to the land owners should be reasonable that is equal to the market price and not a price set arbitrarily by the authorities who often rely on the old law that is redundant in the present context. A committee under the CEO has been formed for this purpose to determine the amount of compensation. So far, the land owners who are not satisfied with the price offered by the various bodies have to approach several government offices. This has complicated the process of providing just compensation and prolonging this task needlessly. Now the disgruntled land owners can approach the NRA CEO directly. This would in a large measure shorten the period of extending the compensation. It has also been mooted that those who do not wish to receive the compensation in cash could be provided with a similar plot of land with the same value in other parts where they can resettle. Direct negotiations with the land owners would facilitate the fixation of the compensation amount.

Letter grading

It is natural that the Higher Secondary Education Board Council chaired by the education minister has decided to introduce letter grading system of giving scores in Classes Eleven and Twelve too. The government has already introduced this system in the SLC examination, starting with the technical stream since last year and with the general stream with this year. The decades-old system of allotting marks out of 100 in every subject is going out. The Education Act amendment bill that has been lying undecided in Parliament for the past several years will hopefully be passed this year, which will make Class Twelve the last year of school level.

Some universities in the country have already been using the letter grading system on a scale of 4, which is the highest grade point average (GPA) that any student can secure. Uniformity of the grading system at all levels will be desirable and in due course of time it may be adopted by all institutions. There are both merits and demerits of all grading systems. But this system has an advantage over the outgoing system because it helps reduce the effect of extreme values and wide variations in marking answer-sheets.

A version of this article appears in print on February 25, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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