KATHMANDU, Dec 31: The Ministry of Land Management, Cooperative and Poverty Alleviation has renewed consultations to amend the Guthi Bill, which was shelved in June after massive protests in Kathmandu.
In a bid to introduce an integrated Guthi law by incorporating suggestions of stakeholders, Minister for Land Management, Cooperative and Poverty Alleviation Padma Kumari Aryal on Monday held a discussion with lawmakers elected from the Kathmandu Valley, leading politicians and mayors.
At the discussion, participants suggested that the ministry bring Guthi law ensuring a special provision to run Guthis established in the Kathmandu Valley so that they could continue their traditions without any disturbance.
“Guthis in Kathmandu truly represent the cultural and religions sentiments of the locals. That’s why an effective law is needed so that the locals can continue with their culture and traditions without any hindrance,” said lawmaker Jeevan Ram Shrestha adding, “A special provision should be included in the law for Kathmandu’s Guthis.”
Earlier in June, the government had withdrawn Guthi from the National Assembly after tens of thousands of locals in Kathmandu protested demanding immediate withdrawal of bill. Minister Aryal had withdrawn the bill saying that further discussion with stakeholders on the issue was needed.
Locals had protested as the bill proposed forming a bureaucrat-led mechanism to bring the Guthi property under government ownership. Kathmandu locals, who have been handling Guthis for long, took to the streets threatening to topple the government. Under pressure, the government had withdrawn the bill.
The government still believes that Guthi land outside Kathmandu has been grossly misused by Guthi management committees. The misuse of land has incurred huge losses to the government and many people are deprived of their right to the land they have been tilling for generations, government officials argue.
During Monday’s meeting, Nepal Communist Party’s central committee member Surendra Manandhar suggested revamping the Guthi Management Authority, and defining duties, responsibilities and rights of Board members in a ‘scientific’ manner.
He asked the government to introduce the bill without hurting the sentiments of the Newar community.
Stating that Guthi lands in the core city areas such as Rani Pokhari and Asan have already been encroached and registered as private land, Rajesh Shakya, a provincial assembly member, said that many locals are worried whether the new law will pave the way for further encroachment of the Guthi lands. “The Guthi lands and our culture and tradition must be preserved,” said Shakya.
After listening to the concerns of the stakeholders, Minister Aryal said that government was working to formulate a law, which will treat Kathmandu Valley Guthis and those outside the Valley in different ways.
“We are consulting stakeholders before drafting the bill,” said Minister Aryal adding, “The new draft won’t be like the previous one.”
Probe panel’s term extended
The ministry has extended the term of a probe panel formed to study the land grab problem by six months.
Publishing a notice in the Nepal Gazette, the ministry has asked the panel to complete the task within six months.
The panel was formed in May and is headed by Mohan Raman Bhattarai to investigate cases of land grab and misuse of public land across the country. Janaki Ballabh Adhikari, Durga Kumari Dahal and Jagat Bahadur Deuja are members of the panel.