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Squatter rehabilitation gets thornier


In another blow to the government´s plan to resettle the squatters displaced from Thapathali, squatters already residing on the bank of the Manohara river and at Bansighat and Shankhamul have refused to accept the newcomers unless the government ensures drinking water, health facilities and electricity for the area.With this, the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority (KVTDA)´s decision to resettle the squatters in other squatter settlements has run into difficulties also.

Earlier, over the last three months, the authorities had to remain helpless in their attempt to rehabilitate the displaced families at Chovar and then at Sundarighat.According to Padam Sijapati, management committee chairman of the Manohora squatters´ settlement, a group from his community has obstructed the process of accomodating the Thapathali squatters, demanding basic services first and that too free of cost.

“Some friends from our community have refused to accept more families as we are already struggling for the essentials,” Sijapati said.

Out of the total of 251 families displaced on May 8 from Thapathali, the government on July 29 decided to send 100 families to Manohara and 151 to Bansighat and Shankhamul respectively. However, the process was halted right after the authorities sent three families to those settlemens. The Manohara squatters recalled an incident three years back when Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, Bhaktapur had refused to register their identities for the purpose of electricity supply.

“Despite an initiative by Nepal Electricity Authority, Bhaktapur, the municipality rejected our plea, citing a legal provision prohibiting the landless from getting electricity that the government supplies to those possessing land ownership certificates,” said Sijapati.

He claimed that people from his community spent Rs 463, 000 for installing the electricity supply and that went in vain following the municipality´s refusal to register identities. Around 800 families are said to be living in the area with poor hygiene and drinking water quality.

Similarly, the squatters at Bansighat and Shankhamul have also come forward with their own demands. Indra Tamang, chief of Nepal Settlement Protection Society (NSPS), said he has failed to establish communications jointly with KVTDA chief Keshav Sthapit and leaders from the three squatter settlements.

“Though Sthapit has assured us of speedy rehabilitation, he has declined to sit for talks jointly with all the stakeholders following objections from our own community,” said Tamang, adding, “It´s hard to say when the issue will be resolved”.

Meanwhile, Sthapit has said he won´t speak about the squatters. “I´ll speak once I have done the preparatory work.”

 Source: My Republica Daily
Published on 2012-08-14 06:00:23

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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