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Squatters refuse to participate for verification Print E-mail
Posted by Administrator   
Thursday, 19 January 2012
By: Om Astha Rai

Kathmandu: Squatters living on the river banks in Kathmandu Valley have refused to participate in the process of verification of genuine landless families, dubbing the government´s move as "a conspiracy to classify them as bogus landless squatters". Samyukta Rashtriya Sukumbasi Morcha, a struggle committee formed by six different organizations of landless squatters to oppose the government´s move to evict them from the river banks, has refused to participate in the verification to be conducted by the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works.

As per the plan, the ministry will also offer alternative arrangements of residence to squatters identified as landless people before evicting them. The Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) has asked all squatters to fill the forms prepared by the ministry before January 21. However, not many squatter families have filled the forms for the verification process. "The process of verifying squatters is intended to portray all the landless families as bogus and encroachers of public lands," Padam Devkota, coordinator of the struggle committee, said. "This is why we have refused to cooperate with the government."
According to Devkota, squatters have opposed the verification process for three reasons. First, the DUDBC asked squatters to obtain forms from its office instead of reaching out to all settlements. Second, only those who themselves, their fathers or their children possess no plot of land are classified as genuine landless squatters. Third, no government employee is considered as landless. "The prerequisites of not possessing land by any of the family members and holding no government post for qualifying as genuinely landless squatters are unacceptable," Khatiwada said.
"If these provisions are to be followed, a majority of squatters will be identified as mere encroachers. Some squatters have come to live on the river banks in the Valley after they lost their lands to landslides. Now, they can not go back to the hills. The government´s provisions, however, are set to identify them as bogus landless people." However, Bhakti Prasad Lamichhane, chairman of a recently-formed commission on landless squatters, said the provision of having no government job for qualifying as landless is still debatable.
"We also have reservations on this issue. We think those who have no land despite holding a government job should also be identified as landless people," says Lamichhane. "But it is not wise on the part of the squatters to reject the verification process. The rejection will most probably lead to a clash between the government and squatters." According to the High-Powered Committee for Integrated Development of Bagmati, which has repeatedly vowed to evict all squatters from the river banks even by using force, 2,800 squatter households are living on the banks of Bagmati, Bishnumati and Manohara rivers.

Source: Republica, January 19, 2012
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