KATHMANDU, Sept 17: An investigation has revealed that land racketeers in Kathmandu have illegally transferred 32 ropanis of public land at Mahankal VDC to the names of different individuals.
According to maps and field books made available by Chabahil Land Revenue Office, land situated in ward 9 of the Mahakal VDC were registered as public land after Dhobi Khola River changed its couse nearly 46 years ago. Its ownership had been transffered to private individuals three years ago.
The existing legal provision in the Land (survey and measurement) Act (1963) and Land Revenue Act(1978) have clearly stated that public land cannot be transferred to the private ownership at any cost. However going against the legislation and under the influence of the "land Mafia" , the number 6 Goshwara Office Basundhara (now integrated into the Land Measurement Office in Chabahil) transferred the public land worth rupees over 1.5 billion to the private ownership.
The government land with the plot nos-133,134,135,33,34,58,82,83,85,96 and 149 among others-- registered in the VDC´s map sheet no 102-0987-15 of the ward no 9 have been transferred to the private ownership. However the Ministry of Land Reform and Management expressed its ignorance over the transfers.
Joint Secretary at the ministry of Land reform and Management Krishna Bahadur Raut said that as per Land Revenue Act (1978) the transfer of the public land to the private ownership will be automatically scrapped if proven during investigation.
“The section 24(2) of the Land Reform Act automatically nullifies the transaction of the any public land to the private ownership. If we find any such anomalies, we will declare it void immediately,” Raut told Republica.
As per the field book record and map (See map) provided by the Land Revenue Office Chabahil, the land left by the Dobi Khola (river) after changed its course in 2022 BS was registered under public category.
Survey office Chabahil, which is responsible for monitoring the land measurement, also said it was unaware about the ownership of public land being transferred to the individuals. “It has been ten month since I came to this office. I am unaware about anything that took place before my arrival,” said Sudarshan Singh Dhami, Chief of Survey Office at Chabahil.
According to a source at the Survey office, of 32 ropanies of public land 28 ropanies have already registered in the name of individual people in the last 3 years whereas remaining 4 ropanis of land are in the process of being transferring to the private ownership.
Land Revenue Office has informed that it would begin the investigation with the help of Land Revenue Department as it has found documentary evidences that Number 6 Goshwara office and the Land Revenue Office Dillibazar had distributed the public land to the individual by going beyond their official mandate.
“With our initial investigation of the documents and maps, we have found fault. We will take further steps after informing the the Department,” an officer in the Land Revenue office said. As per the Field Book at the Land Survey Office Chabahil, filed map has been amended as per the recommendation made on March 18, 2008 by a committee formed by Land Survey and Measurement Regulations 2001.
The Field Book states that public land was registered in the name of private individuals as per the recommendation of the committee under the coordination of the then Chief Survey Officer at the Number 6 Goshwara Office Basundhara and with the agreement from the Survey Department. However no such committees formed by the government can transfer the public land to the private ownership.
“As per the section 11(b) of the Land (survey and measurement) Act, the committee can make recommendation to declare invalid for transfer of the public land to the private ownership. Public land can not be transferred to the private ownership under any logic or circumstances,” said Nagendra Jha, Director General at the Survey Department.
“All the lands left by the rivers (Nadi Ukas,) are public. If such lands are found to have been registered with private ownership, the registration will be made void,” he added.
The area north to the Sukedhara at Ring Road , where there were only some huts and sheds until a few year back, has been witnessing the construction of multistoried buildings and business complexes lately.
As per the existing map of the area, the plot number 133 is under the possession of Bijay Sumbahamphe and Nandamaya Limbu. Four year ago the area for the plot was 4 ropani, 12 aana and 2 paisa however after the integration of the public land the area has increased to 7 ropani, 2 aana, 2 paisa and 2 daam. According to sources, Limbu and Sambahamphe got their land area increased with the help of land mafia active in the Kathmandu. The source claimed that 15 other people have also transferred public land under their names through illegal means.
As per the legal provision even the cabinet decision can only provide the public land to any organization for the temporary use only. “If the government finds it reasonable, it can provide the public land to any individual or organization for the use though the cabinet decision.
However, it too can provide the land only for the temporary use,” Former Secretary and Land Reform Management expert Baburam Acharya said. “Section 2(e) of the Land Measurement Act clearly stated that the area left by the river ( Nadi Ukas) are public land which cannot be transferred to any private ownership,” said Acharya.
The existing map still shows the area as public land marking the area as the Dhobi Khola area. It is the under the ambit of the Land Revenue Office Chabahil to issue land ownership certificates of the lands in the Mahankal VDC however some of the land ownership certificates are found to be distributed by the Land Revenue office Dillibazar under the influence of racketeers.
“Some of the certificates of the land in the area bear the stamps from Dillibazar office, which does not have authority to deal with the land in Mahankal VDC. So Dillibazar office illegally worked to distribute the certificates by going beyond their authority," a source at Chabahil Land Revenue office said.