Living in despair

Thousands of landless squatters living on the banks of the Bagmati River are living miserable lives because of lack of basic facilities. While most of these squatters live in make-shift houses, others do not have electricity, water supply and proper toilets. They fetch water from public taps and defecate by the riverside. Since a majority of these squatters earn their living as daily wage labourers, it is quite understandable that these people cannot afford to have these facilities or relocate to a better place. Landless squatters have been living by the riverside and other public land in various places in the capital for years, and in some cases, decades now. However, the government has hardly given any attention to their woes and taken concrete initiatives to improve their lives.

Squatters have time and again demanded that they be ensured access to education, employment and health services. The demands raised by them are legitimate in that it is the responsibility of the state to guarantee every citizen the fundamental rights granted by the Constitution. However, these demands have often fallen on deaf ears forcing the

poor squatters to live in squalor and disease. Not only should the government immediately launch programmes to educate and rehabilitate them but also make plans to relocate them permanently.

Providing housing loans and other loans in order to make them capable of starting up their own business could be a good start.