KATHMANDU, June 3: Smelling a rat in the proposal sent by the Ministry of Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation (MoLMCPA) to bring the Lalita Niwas land under government ownership, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has returned the proposal back for revision.
The government had acquired a total of 284 ropani, 14 ana and 3 paisa of land of the Baluwatar-based Lalita Niwas after paying due compensation to the owners on November 30, 1964. But later, the land mafia, in collusion with land revenue officials at Dillibazar Land Revenue Office, had grabbed 114 ropani of the same land and sold it to various businessmen and individuals.
Chief Secretary Lok Darshan Regmi recently returned the proposal document, which was approved by the minister concerned, for revision saying that the proposal was ‘immature’ and ‘weak’, according to sources at the PMO.
Sources at the PMO said Chief Secretary Regmi decided to send back the proposal document, which says the land mafia had produced fake Guthi (trust) and fake tenants to grab the land and the land compensation provided to ‘land mafia’ and businessmen under the pretext of expanding the prime minister’s official residence premises, was ‘vague’.
Sources at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers said the proposal document, which was approved by Minister for Land Management, Cooperatives and Poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal was sent back and the ministry has been asked to revise it in consultation with legal expert and resend.
Sources claimed that Chief Secretary Regmi has directed the MoLMCPA to prepare the proposal in such a way that the government would be able to reclaim even the land pieces that were given away to private individuals by the then prime ministers Krishna Prasad Bhattarai (2047 BS), Madhav Kumar Nepal (2066 BS) and Baburam Bhattarai (2069 BS).
“Various individuals have grabbed the land belonging to Lalita Niwas through various cabinet decisions after 2047 BS  and the decisions of the land revenue offices. The land must be brought under the government’s ownership at any cost,” said a source at the OPMCM. “The proposal was sent back for revision in order to to make it foolproof.”
Highly-placed sources said the OPMCM has directed the ministry concerned to bring a proposal in line with the recommendations made by a high-level committee formed under the leadership of former Secretary Sharada Prasad Trital.
When approached by Republica, Secretary at the MoLMCPA Gopi Nath Mainali declined to comment on the issue. Secretary Mainali has already revised the proposal twice as instructed by the minister. Sources said the minister was unhappy with the secretary’s proposal to revoke all the decisions on the Lalita Niwas land made by Madhav Kumar Nepal’s cabinet.
“Please don’t ask me about this. Everyone will know once the government’s makes its decision,” said Secretary Mainali.
Spokesperson at MoLMCPA Janak Raj Joshi also did not want to discuss the PMO decision to send back the proposal document.
He, however, informed that the ministry is currently revising the proposal to make it foolproof so that the government is able to take back all the land grabbed by the land mafia.
While submitting its report to the government on December 12, 2018, the Trital-led committee had recommended the government to take back all the land illegally grabbed by various individuals through controversial cabinet decisions.