Furor seems to have sparked among the general public after 113 ropanis public land located at right under the nose of the Prime Minister’s residence at Baluwatar, Kathmandu is proved to have illegally transferred in the person’s name including of the government head Nepal Communist Party (NCP) General Secretary Bishnu Poudel. According to the finding reports of the committee formed under the leadership of former secretary Sarada Prasad Trital, the saga of transforming the public land into persons’ name was begun with cabinet decision of the government led by NCP senior leader Madhav Kumar Nepal in 4 May, 2010. As the committee has categorically revealed about the facts of embezzlement of public land, social media are buzzed with criticism against of the NCP and leaders for amassing property illegally. Even though the Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has repeatedly been reiterating to probe the public land grab case, suspicions are riffed now that the culprit would be acquitted in any pretext. The incident of public land grab case has given a clear indication that grabbing the public land would have made a lucrative business across the country in connection of the political leaders and civil servants as even a small plot of land in Kathmandu and other urban centers commanding prohibitive prices.
Then government led by the then king Mahendra in 1964 had decided to acquire 299 ropani land of Lalita Niwas at Baluwatar. The land and other 1298 ropani land occupied by other six Rana era castles namely Mahavir Bhawan at Naxal, Harihar Bhawan at Lalitpur, Sita Bhawan at Naxal and Laxmi Niwas at Babar Mahal were acquired under Land Acquisition Act with due compensation. However, the remaining 14 ropani and 11 ana land belonging to late Nepali Congress leader Subarna Shumsher Rana was acquired by the Mahendra led government without paying due compensation. According to the report, of the 284 ropanis of the acquired land, residences of prime minister, chief justice, speaker and Nepal Rastra Bank’s building covers around 172 ropanis while remaining 113 ropanis were embezzled by land mafia in collusion with politician and officials. Over a period of time, these huge plots of land have been divided and sold to many private individuals after the cabinet of then Nepal led government in May 2010 had facilitated the transfer of the land to private individuals. This incident categorically indicates that public lands were transferred into private property under the protection of the leaders of any political parties.
The cabinet decision of then government led by Nepal seems to have called bypassing the due process with the motive to authorize to the Land Revenue Office (LRO), Dillibazaar to register and transfer ownership of any land. According to the report, the Nepal led government had not only validated to all the malicious decisions taken by the LRO in the past but also paved the way for transferring ownership of public land in the names of individuals in the future. The Cabinet decision was also found erroneous for endorsing the proposal tabled by then minister Dambar Shrestha as the LRO was authorized to register and transfer ownership of land without following due legal process of getting approval from the land reforms ministry and land reform division. Though the probe committee’s report implicates a number of staffers from the Land Revenue Office at Dillibazaar as well as in the Ministry, the wrong was evolved from the cabinet decision. As highly influential people including from the ruling party now occupy the public land, highly raised question of is that how the government deals with the report’s recommendations to tame the land mafias. The government must scrap the erroneous decision taken by the Nepal-led government in 2010 so as not to allow the malicious transfer of ownership of public land to individuals. Likewise it would better to form a high level commission to investigate and identify the public land of across the country.