Land Reform Dept mum on public lands misuse data

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Despite repeated requests by the Ministry of Land Reform and Management (MoLRM), the Department of Land Reform and Management (DoLRM) has failed to submit within the stipulated timeframes data on public land encroachment in Kathmandu Valley.

“We sent the department three letters asking officials to furnish exact figures on public land encroached in Kathmandu Valley over a period of 15 years,” said Lal Mani Joshi, joint secretary at the ministry, adding, “But the department didn´t comply with our request.”

According to him, the ministry has once again written to the department to furnish such a report by Friday. “We have asked department officials to submit the report by this Friday at any cost,” Joshi informed Republica.

The ministry has sought details of misappropirated public lands from the department. “The department is asked to furnish details as to how much public land was illicitly transferred to the names of individuals and when,” reads the letter sent to the department by the ministry.

The ministry had issued a serious missive to the department after the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (PMO) instructed the ministry to immediately control the racket in public land and identify who has seized how much public land.

According to a report prepared by the Rawal Commission in 2052 BS, Kathamandu Valley possesses altogether 18,000 ropani of public land. In an in-depth report to the government, the commission had concluded that 1,800 ropani was misappropriated by hundreds of individuals.

No investigation was carried out regarding public land misuse in the Valley after 2052 BS.

However, government officials have estimated that 10 times more public land could have been seized by individuals over the 15-year period as the trend of transferring public lands into private ownership had gone up sharply.

According to a knowledgeable source at MoLRM, department officials failed to submit their report at the ministry even after three deadlines mainly for three reasons. First, they themselves might have been involved in illicitly transferring public lands to the names of private individuals. Secondly, collecting reliable figures on how much public land was misappropriated and by whom is a complicated task as there is no record keeping system in government offices. And thirdly, department officials might have deliberately ignored the ministry´s request as collecting such data is less beneficial to them compared to some other lucrative activities within the department.

Despite Republica´s efforts, DoLRM Director General Jeet Bahadur Thapa was not available for comment as to why the department could not furnish the report. 
source:Gautam, Bimal(2011),"Land Reform Dept mum on public lands misuse data",republica, 20 Jan 2011

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