RUPANDEHI, Jan 27: In each election, land ownership certificates for the people of Rudrapur village in Rupandehi district becomes a common agenda for all poll candidates. The villagers here actively participated in each election starting from 1999 to 2017 hoping of getting land ownership certificates.
However, the wait continues even after two decades. Around 90% households in this village lack land ownership certificates. Rudrapur which falls in Kanchan Rural Municipality is often called the village without land ownership certificates.
“Now it is hard for us to trust the leaders and their lofty promises as we have been disappointed a lot in the past,” said Surya Bahadur Pun of Rudrapur. After the local elections, the details of people with land ownership certificates was collected which had elated the locals. A year later, the people realized that it was just another blow for them.
Parliament member as well as a local leader of the Nepali Congress (NC), Bharat Shah, has been regularly winning elections from here. Despite being aware of the misery of the people, he has been accused of not making any effort to solve this major problem of the locals. “We have been casting votes in each election, hoping these leaders may finally address our problems. However, it is hard to see them once they get elected,” said Bir Bahadur Rana, 45, of the same village.
It has been a decade since he has been living in a piece of land without an ownership certificate. “We fear the government may one day displace us from our own land as we lack the legal proof,” he said. Not just the ordinary folks but also the government offices lack land ownership certificates.
The under-construction building of Rudrapur Health Post could not start on time as it does not have the right to use the land. The building of Kanchan Rural Municipality office is also built on an unregistered piece of land and so is the building of the Area Police Office (APO).
Due to the lack of land ownership certificates, the locals cannot even keep their land as collateral in banks to seek loan, despite having enough land. Even the locals living here since 1974 do not have land ownership certificates.
In 2016, the Land Reforms Commission collected the details of the locals for distributing land ownership certificates. A total of 6,400 households filled the forms. However, the process was obstructed by the court later. After the local elections, details were collected again but the process was obstructed again due to confusion over the authority as the country had just entered a new federal structure.
Kanchan Rural Municipality had made preparations to distribute land ownership certificates to the locals but the process could not be forwarded due to the obstruction by the federal government. Gokarna Bahadur Chhetri, chairperson of the rural municipality stated that the process would be started as soon as the government formulates the law.
As per the census of 2011, there were 4,567 households in Rudrapur alone which now is believed to be more than 5,000. According to the local unit, around 5,000 households in Kanchan Rural Municipality lack land ownership certificates.