Balen to Iih: Fulfillment of your demands goes against the law

Published On: September 27, 2023 05:33 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Sept 27: Balendra Shah (Balen), the mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC), has claimed that the laws of the country do not allow for addressing the demands put forth by activist Iih. The Kathmandu mayor said so in a Facebook status on Wednesday. 

Iih has been protesting outside the City Hall for nine days, reminding KMC Mayor Balen and Deputy Mayor Sunita Dangol of their election promises.

Although there was a meeting between the team of KMC and Iih on Tuesday, it was inconclusive.

Addressing Iih, Mayor Balne announced seven points of opinion about the footpath vendors through Facebook.

Here's an unofficial translation of Mayor Balen's Facebook status:

Dear Iih,

As far as we know, you are not operated by anyone or sponsored by any party. We do not believe anyone who says so. We do not want to dismiss the demands that you have raised saying you are mobilized. But for what you stand for, a letter would have been received even if you had exercised the right to information. It is unfortunate that you did not take that institutional route. You didn’t even agree to sit for talks. Well, there is no malice or importance for that is your wish.

Now let's get into our thoughts about the footpath and the business on it:

1. Trading on footpaths, roads and right of way is illegal. It may be emotional due to compulsion or circumstances, but it is not different from illegality as seen by law.

2. The situation is also different regarding time allocation. Children walk for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening, blind people walk, pregnant people walk, sick people walk. At the same time, it is not impossible for fire incidents to occur or people to get sick. In such an emergency, sidewalk shops and stalls become obstructions. For this reason, the construction materials placed on the roads are also removed. Therefore, five million people's right to walk cannot be violated or put at risk for someone's construction or for 1000 people. In the last one year, more than 20 percent of the complaints that came to the call center of Kathmandu metropolis, which are about 1000, are all related to the removal of businesses from the footpaths.

3. Not only the Mayor, but also the Prime Minister and the Council of Ministers cannot step upon the current laws to allow trade or business on public land that looks like an empty place. Collective market is still already being practiced on private lands. Kathmandu together with the Nepal government has tried to manage the sidewalk vendors in Bhrikuti Mandap. But that didn't clear the pavements. It didn't solve the problem.

4. Similarly, land cannot be given even if we want to. Because, the ownership of the land of the metropolis and the land of the Government of Nepal is different. The right to give and not to give is in different processes and bodies. That is why the metropolis has no right to give or not give the land that belongs to the Nepal government. To tell the truth, if the metropolis had such land, we would have built a 2-room public toilet there first. The reality is that the metropolis has no land. Ward offices and offices of the metropolis are also rented. At one of the places you requested for, the government has rendered 150 families squatters by not giving compensation for 25 years. What ethics could possibly let us allow (street vendors) to run a business at such a place? 

5. You must have understood that we do not have the right to fulfill your demands on such grounds. There is no way we  can change related issues like the Constitution, Public Roads Act. If that is the case, there may be an argument that the metropolis will turn a blind eye to allowing businesses on the sidewalks. But I believe you wouldn’t want to see a metropolis that turns a blind eye to illegal things, you would want to follow the law as well.

6. I have not forgotten the election agenda and will not forget it. Kathmandu metropolis is always there to speak for the poor.

I also know the point and page number on which i have written this in the manifesto. That point was not only for the management of a particular person or group, it was a step towards eradicating poverty. Some of the programs have been further refined through direct study of both the limitations and possibilities of the metropolis. Even now, we say that poverty must be removed from the world, not the poor. That's why we are creating employment through the Labour Bank. We have allocated a budget of more than Rs 100 million to teach skills that can be obtained from general training and that can be easily marketed.

Last year alone, we provided scholarships to more than 15,000 people. As soon as the process of 10 percent discount on health is implemented, the right of the poor to get treatment in 900 beds every day is established. While there is a lot that can be done in this way, we do not think that selling goods brought from India and China on the sidewalk will help alleviate poverty. Instead, it makes those who are involved in the system and are doing the same business bankrupt. This is also the conclusion that can be reached if the late Prem Prasad Acharya's struggle is carefully studied.

We are moving forward with a policy to manage businesses or products that are made in the country but cannot go to the big market, and generate income of a temporary nature. After the implementation of this policy, the marketing of goods and services produced in the country will be facilitated in Kathmandu and the related problems will be reduced.

7. And, as far as the argument put forth by KP Oli, Baburam Bhattarai, Kamal Thapa, Gagan Thapa, Swarnim Wagle and others that the genuine demands should be met is considered, we see political dishonesty. They are in the position of making laws, but have they ever tried to make clear laws about it?  For cheap popularity, they gave a superficial statement that the genuine demands should be met, but did they differentiate between the legitimate and the illegitimate demands? They were the ones who made the laws that could not fulfill those legitimate demands.. 

At that time, did they write a note of dissent against the current legal provisions? If not, they should have explained about that provision. But that was not done. They are also among the people who have the right to amend the legal provisions if they are not correct.

We believe that it would be a great injustice to the thousands of Kathmandu residents whose houses were demolished and whose land were acquired to build footpaths and roads if people are allowed to run business on roads and sidewalks. It would also be a violation of the law as such places cannot be used for purposes other than those for which they were acquired. So please stop the agitation and ask them to follow the rules and regulations. Do not get in our way of obeying or enforcing the law.


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