By D.M. Thapa
We all love our land. The Americans love their land, the Brits also love their land, so do the Australians, Indians and so on and so forth, every one loves their land.
But this author is not talking about the true nationalists or patriots who are ready to give up their lives for the cause of their country. Here in Nepal, there are many people willing to do anything to grab other peoples’ land, even if it is in inches. But our neighbour India thinks big and captures Nepali territory in thousands of acres!
Right now, the media people are full of stories of how some cunning individuals have stolen government land, including the much controversial land belonging to the government near the Prime Minister’s official residence in Baluwatar. This trend has been going on in almost all parts of the country and the Minister for Land Reforms, Urmila Aryal, at an interaction at the Gorkhapatra Corporation even said the government will take back all such land taken over by individuals.
But no one seems to be talking about the private land taken over by cunning real estate dealers, who actually are “pimps”, by working hand in gloves with the government officials, specially in the government institutions who seem so upright while dealing with ordinary people, but who do anything for money in one pretext or the other.
They change the rules according to the money they are paid, while they bother the genuine land sellers or buyers. They are also pimps working for those “dalals” in buying and selling land that belong to others.
This author knows on first hand the case of a friend, whose father was a big official and through sincere blood and sweat he bought some land in a far flung area where few people lived. He introduced electricity, telephone, drinking water, a free school and did various kinds of social works before this area developed gradually in many years. He had a compounded land for which he had paid every penny to the land owners, but unfortunately, most of the land was fallow. The eyes of greedy land “pimps”, eventually went to this land as well and in no time, by troubling the whole family with this threat or the other, one huge portion of the land was siphoned off. Of course with the tacit support of the crooked officials in the Land Revenue, Land Reforms and some other institutions of the government. This is a true story and few neighbours could believe how a compounded area was thus captured by this simple pimp, who literally used to be called a “jackal” in the neighbourhood. It is another story that he was backed by other crooked bankers, who also wanted to make a quick buck.
Actually, not only those who have taken over government land, but also these villains in the bank and government agencies should be punished. For one to claim his or her own land, there is a long process and many witnesses have to be brought, but to take over land, like the land of scenic Phewa Tal (lake), some sections even under water like claimed by a popular vernacular daily, no rules are required! This is absurd and perhaps this is why those who are into this business of grabbing others’ land, are being further encouraged. The media must report on these matters and the government must also take stern action against these culprits who are worse than gold smugglers or gamblers, of whom we hear so often.
This author has nothing to say about the people who have a dream of owning land in some urban areas, specially Kathmanu, through their hard earned money and through much belt tightening while they work in some office or the other. They have their right to have such ambitions and own a small plot of land where they can live with their family expecting services like health, education and transport nearby. But to steal government land or land belonging to other individuals is a huge crime and these people, along with the government officials who have helped them, must be severely punished and fined for their misdeeds. Let them not dare do such things, even if it means stealing just one inch of land belonging to others.
But what can we say here, when the government keeps on harping of diplomatic negotiations to even bring back the country’s own territory? Why didn’t the other side initiate any such negotiations while taking away the land of a neighbouring country? Can our smart intellectuals and so called leaders of the civil society say anything about this? Of course not, because like trading flesh of some person, all they think about is their commission and they have no patriotic feelings.
Once fertile Kathmandu is now a concrete jungle and like one comedian said, some youngster think that vegetables are grown in Kalimati, an area where vegetables are sold. There was abundant supply of vegetables in Kathmandu and in fact some of that were also sold in other parts of the country, but now, we have to import vegetables, that also in billions and we have to carry money in big bags to bring a small bag of greens, a staple diet of most ordinary Nepalese. But while the common people suffer, no others seem to care, specially not the government or our so called expert planners.
But whatever the situation here, while all the Nepalese have to be very, very sensitive about the encroachment of the country’s territory, the government also must be serious about the land grabbing habits of some so called real estate agents and rap them on their knuckles as soon as they commit crimes. Corruption and crime are pulling the country down, but if we still do something about it, with the full help of the people, things can be controlled. Don’t bring up the name of only the former kings while rousing the public, they must be motivated to fight crime and corruption too. Specially those we see in the media outlets, where only individuals are making gains while the nation is losing.