Delay in land acquisition for East-West Railways affects dozens of families in Morang


By Hari Prasad Koirala, Urlabari, Feb 3: Dozens of households here have been made financially helpless as their land property has been banned from selling for acquisition to build railways.

As many as 161 families of Kanepokhari 7, 14 of 5 and 5 of 6 wards have been affected as their land has been restricted for sale and mortgage with a view to acquiring the land for building East-West railways.

"We are barred not only from mortgaging the land, but also from building a house for ourselves. Some have even been unable to divide parental property due to this. See, a mall part of my one bigha land is within the rail road, but whole plot has been restricted," said Chetnath Paudel, a local of Kanepokhari-6.

He urged the government to free the restriction if it is not able to pay compensation in time. "There is no point in holding the land for over three years in the name of railways as we have been bearing the brunt of the government indecision and inaction," he said.

Paudel also added that he would be happy to see the railways going through his area, but the government should either provide the sum for land acquisition or release the land restricted for sale.

Kamal Prasad Puadel of Aaitabare, Kanepokhari-7 in Morang district, has the same plight.

"I have two bigha of land. Some people even call me landlord! But I am cash strapped now. I can only pay the interest of the loan from the agricultural products of the land. I married off two of my daughters taking loans. I also have to educated my children and pay for this. And agricultural products cannot suffice my expenses and I must sale land. But I cannot sell my own land," he said.

Dev Raj Gurung of Rangeli has only 6 dhur (20 dhur makes a bigha) land. And he has a hut on the same land. When he knew about the railway crossing through the land, he got elated as he would get land compensation and there will be railway. But, for the last three years, he has lost his sleep as no compensation has been received nor he has been able to think of new business or jobs.

Aman Chitrakar, information office of the Department of Railway, said he has no answer to the question when the affected will be paid compensation.

"The government can acquire private land by paying compensation. But, it is not logical to keep the people in confusion for three years. The government has to either acquire the land through due process or free the restriction. Some land around Biratnagar airport was banned for sale in order to acquire. But, now the ban is freed and people are able to sell it," he said.

Chairperson of Kanepokharai Rural Municipality Rajmati Ingnam observed that internal revenue of the rural municipality was affected due to the ban on sale of land.

He said all the local levels in Morang district which fall along the proposed railways are planning to jointly demand the district administration to either forward the work of paying compensation or release the ban on sale of the land for acquisition.

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