KATHMANDU, July 5: The government has started to erect makeshift huts for squatters at Sundarighat of Lalitpur district, nearly two months evicting them from the bank of Bagmati River near Thapathali. It spending Rs 35,000 per hut.
Even though 250 families were removed during the eviction drive, Urban Development and Building Construction Department is constructing only 58 huts.
According to Shiva Sharma, an officer with the department, the government has plans to provide huts only to the genuine squatters. “We had asked all the families affected by the eviction to fill up forms for resettlement. Only 67 families filled the form. After proper verification, only 58 were identified as genuine squatters,” he said. The government had provided Rs 15,000 as immediate relief to each of the 58 families.
“The temporary huts made up of bamboo are being erected just for the 58 families. The government might come up with a better option for them later,” Sharma added. On Wednesday, the department built frames for seven huts. Sharma further informed that the huts would be ready within 3 to 4 days. "Those who are really in problem will move in, else they will not. What else can the government can do for them," Sharma said.
Mahesh Basnet, chairman of the Bagmati Civilization Integrated Development Committee, which carried out the eviction drive, said that the construction of huts would bring happiness to genuine squatters while those pretending to be homeless will continue to make problems.
Meanwhile, the construction work could not go on smoothly. The locals, who were already irked by the news of squatters´ relocation to Sundarighat, took to the street necessitating police intervention ahead of the construction work on Wednesday.
The locals had earlier said that they would oppose relocation of squatters to Sundarighat at all cost as the place is a site of archeological and cultural importance and needed conservation and not relocation of squatters.
The entire Sundarighat area spreads over 25 ropanis of land that is dotted with different temples and monasteries of historical importance. The government plans to use seven ropanis of the land for building a settlement for evicted squatters.