BHAKTAPUR, June 30
A little late is sometimes too late. This has proved true in the case of cultivable land in Bhaktapur district, which has shrunk by 36 percent in the last six years after falling prey to land brokers and brick kiln operators.
Cultivable land in Bhaktapur, which covered over 11,000 hectares in 2007, has declined by around 4,000 hectares as of the running fiscal year, according to the District Agriculture Development Office (DADO).
Once known as the granery of Kathmandu Valley, Bhaktapur now hardly produces enough to feed the people of the district, said Bed Prasad Chaulagain, chief agricultural officer at DADO. Land fertility has also declined and paddy output dropped to 5.1 metric tons per year from 7 metric tons in 2007, he added.
When real estate boomed across the country, Bhaktapur was swept along. It was already showing overall development with the beginning of work on the six-lane road facilitating movement between Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.
“How long are you going to keep on making two-rupee bunches of dhaniya (coriander) leaf from land worth millions,” Kalu Ranabhat remembers brokers telling him to lure him into selling his four ropani.
“They wanted cars, four-storey houses and a lavish life, but I have lost my land,” said Ranabhat, who still works throughout the day on plots which used to be his one day. “I still feel attached to my land and I will keep cultivating it until all of it is covered with buildings,” said the bare-foot farmer.
In 1979, the District Development Committee Bhaktapur had prepared a master plan on land use. However, the plan that envisaged making the district a green belt for the Valley is now gathering dust somewhere.
The master planners wanted buildings to be constructed only along the roadside on the way to Bhaktapur and the southern part to be a green area. But the proposed green belt got gobbled up while the government remained a mere spectator.“
“The tarai movement that displaced many people of pahadi origin and road development in the district brought in newcomers who made Bhaktapur their first choice for resettlement,” Chaulagain said, citing the reason behind the loss of agricultural land.
More than two dozen brick kilns, which have been in operation since the late 1990s, have also affected land fertility, as well as environment, in the district.
Similarly, Kathmandu Agriculture Development Office produced data last fiscal year showing that 21,000 hectares of cultivable land is left in Kathmandu district, down from 24,000 hectares just a few years ago.
According to Hari Dahal, agriculture expert and former government secretary, it was never clear who would be responsible for checking the unmanaged urbanization that is swallowing up fertile land.
The Ministry of Land Reform and Management (MoLM), which is the authority responsible for taking action against land misuse, introduced a Land Use Policy a year ago. But it can´t be implemented unless the relevent regulation is endorsed, said Krishna Raj BC, MoLM spokesperson. “We are working day and night so that the land use policy gets the green signal soon,” he claimed.
|Source: Republica Daily|
Published on 2013-06-30 01:39:48