KATHMANDU, April 8: A probe committee formed by the government to study the illegal transfer of government-owned land to private individuals have recommended the government to scrap all the controversial decisions made in connection to the land grab case through a cabinet meeting.
The probe committee headed by former Secretary Sharada Prasad Trital made the recommendation in its report submitted to the government after concluding that the ownership of the land acquired by the government by paying due compensation was transferred in the names of individuals in an unscrupulous manner.
The report says that the then government had acquired only 14 ropani and 11 aana without paying compensation, while the remaining land of Lalita Niwas was acquired by paying due compensation to its owners.
The government in 2022 BS had acquired a total of 299 ropani 9 aana and 3 paisa land owned by Subarna Shumsher Rana and his family members including 114 ropani land of Lalita Niwas in Baluwatar. Of the total land acquired by the government, official records show that the government had acquired only 14 ropani and 11 aana of land owned by Subarna Shumsher Rana and his son Kanchan Shumsher without paying compensation after they did not support the move of King Mahendra to introduce party-less Panchayat system.
Land mafia in collusion with the land revenue officials at Dillibazar Land Revenue Office, former government secretaries, and ministers are found to have grabbed the 114 ropani of land between 2047 BS to 2073 BS.
The probe committee report has stated that Suniti Rana, Shailaja Rana, Rukma Shumsher, Hatak Shumsher and Heman Shumsher had transferred ownership of 113 ropani and 3 aana land duly acquired by the government to their names in unscrupulous manner.
Of the land acquired this way, Bhatbhateni Supermarket operator Min Bahadur Gurung and Non-Resident Nepali Association later bought 60 ropani and 3 ropani 1 aana land from Rana families respectively. Bhatbhateni Supermarket has already constructed buildings in the same land.
Sources said Rana families had to let go almost 20 ropani of land to seek favor from government officials, ministers and politicians in order to transfer the ownership of government-owned land to their names. The probe committee has concluded that land mafia and those using the land were successful to grab the land through various controversial cabinet decisions in 2047 BS, 2049 BS, 2062 BS, 2067 BS and 2069 BS.
The probe committee has recommended action against the then secretary at the Ministry of Land Reform Chhabi Raj Pant, land mafia duo Ram Kumar Subedi and Shova Kanta Dhakal and chiefs of Dillli Bazar Land Revenue Office between 2047 BS to 2073 BS and other concerned officials in cases of corruption, organized crimes and forging government seal and signature for their role in transferring the ownership of government land to private individuals.
The probe panel has also recommended action against then chief of Dillibazar Land Revenue Office Kaladhar Deuja for his role in transferring ownership of government land to private individuals on November 10, 1992 and on January 7, 1993. Deuja and other land revenue officials had helped bring the ownership of 26 different plots of land in the name of Suniti Rana, Shailaja Rana, and Rukma Shumsher Rana. Similarly, the ownership of 27 other plots were transferred in the name of Shailaja Rana and others on the same dates.
Similarly, two different plots measuring 28 ropani 15 aana 1 paisa and 7 ropani and 14 aana that were originally in the name of Tikinchha Guthi were transferred in the names of Suniti and Shailaja Rana, respectively, on January 7, 1993 in collusion with then chief of Dillibazar Land Revenue Office Deuja.
The probe committee has recommended action against chief of the Land Revenue Office Hari Krishna Timsina, land revenue officer Tika Ram Ghimire, land revenue officer Hripendra Mani KC, survey officer Mohammad Sabir Hussain, non-gazetted officials Shree Hari Pudasaini and Shyam Kumar Khatri on corruption cases for their questionable roles in transferring ownership of public and Guthi land to individuals.
The probe panel has also recommended initiating corruption cases against the then chief of Kathmandu District Land Revenue Office Sudhir Kumar Shah, who is currently serving as an election commissioner, chiefs of Samar Jung Company Arjun Prasad Bhandari, Chiranjibi Adhikari, Lok Hari Ghimire and Ramesh Kumar Pokharel on charge of corruption.
The probe panel has suggested taking action against chiefs of Dilli Bazar Land Revenue Office, chiefs and administrators of Guthi Sansthan and other concerned employees between 2047 BS to 2073 BS for not taking any initiatives to protect the public land even as its ownership was illegally transferred in the name of individuals.
Since there was questionable role played by even those not holding any public position in the land grab case, the probe panel has suggested directing the Central Bureau of Investigation of Nepal Police to conduct further investigation against them. A cabinet meeting held on March 12, 2019 has already directed CIB to initiate an investigation into the Lalita Niwas land grab case as per the recommendation of the probe panel.
A cabinet meeting led by then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai on October 4, 2012 had amended the registration made in the name of Samarjung Company and decided to transfer ownership of the land to Rana family members. Various businessperson and land mafia had later purchased the land from the Rana family members.