KATHMANDU, May 23: A Panchayat-era minister has said that the government had paid compensation to the owners of the Lalita Niwas land 49 years ago. land
Nawaraj Subedi, who was a minister of the cabinet led by the then Acting Prime Minister Gehendra Bahadur Rajbhandari that remained in office from 1970 to 1972, claimed that the government acquired the land and paid compensations higher than the going rate.
He claimed that six Rana-era palaces were acquired by the government for the purpose of building public infrasatructure. “The government paid good amount of money in compensation to the owners after acquiring six palaces including Laxmi Niwas, Lalita Niwas, Sita Niwas, Mahavir Bhawan, Babarmahal and Harihar Bhawan,” Subedi told Republica.
He said that he is ready to support the government with the investigation into the land scam.
“I myself was involved in getting the decision to pay compensation for the Lalita Niwas land endorsed through the cabinet,” said former minister Subedi, “On the basis of that very decision, the then zonal chief’s office had published a public notice and distributed compensation to the land owners,” Subedi said.
Subedi, who is now 81, said he headed 11 various ministerial portfolios in the Rajbhandari cabinet. He said King Mahendra himself had ordered acquisition of the Lalita Niwas land.
He added that compensation was distributed to all the landowners except for Subarna Shumsher, who had been declared ‘anti-nation element’ and his son Kanchan Shumsher.
Subedi’s statement has come at a time when the kin of Subarna Shumsher along with the land mafia and businessmen have grabbed the Lalita Niwas land claiming that the government had seized the land without paying them any compensation.
But in 1992, the kin of Subarna Shumsher had illegally grabbed the government land by influencing the government and sold the land in 2004 to various 100 individuals including businessmen and land brokers. The government has recently decided to bring the land back to the government’s ownership.
Former Minister Subedi claimed that the truth about the compensation will be clear if one studies the copies of Nepal Gazette of 1972.
“Only the 14 ropani and 11 ana land belonging to Subarna Shusher, who was labeled as anti-nation element, was confiscated by the government,” Subedi said, “For the remaining land, handsome amounts were paid in compensation to the owners.”