Retired land revenue officer accused of grabbing 590 ropani govt land

Published On: May 18, 2019 05:00 AM NPT By: DB BUDHA

JUMLA, May 18: A land revenue officer in Jumla has been accused of converting 590 ropani (30.02 hectares) of land belonging to the National Sheep and Goat Research Program of Guthichaur Rural Municipality-4 to private ownership.

Govinda Prasad Neupane, a retired officer of the Land Revenue Office (LRO), Jumla, has been accused of registering a huge chunk of government land in the name of his kin. It has been revealed that in 2009, Neupane registered 590 ropanis of government land in the name of 14 of his relatives.

According to the District Administration Office (DAO), Jumla, Neupane transferred the ownership of 138 ropanis of government land to his wife Goma and daughter Parbati. The remaining land was registered in the names of his relatives. An investigation committee formed under the leadership of the then Chief District Officer (CDO) Rudra Prasad Pandit had begun the investigation into the case accusing former land revenue officer Neupane of illegally acquiring government land.

The team also included assistant CDO Bishnu Parasad Neupane, late assistant forest officer Shyam Lal Mahat, and Survey Officer Damodar Wagle, among others.As mentioned in the field book, plot no.3 (62.15 hectares) of the erstwhile Guthichaur VDC is registered in the name of Sheep and Goat Farm. Of this land, Neupane allegedly transferred the ownership of 30.02 hectares to his kith and kin. Pandit who was appointed the CDO in March 2016 learnt about Neupane's forgery through some sources.

The investigation report prepared by then CDO Pandit shows that the ownership of the government land has been transferred to 14 different persons so as to evade tax. Apart from his wife and daughter, Neupane has registered huge chunks of land in the names of his relatives Bishnu Neupane, Bijay Neupane, Maya Lal Neupane, Nawarishi Neupane, Ghana Prasad Neupane, Kabidatta Neupane, Bishnu Lal Neupane, Harihar Neupane, Devendra Upadhyaya and Janakidatta Devkota.

It has been learnt that Neupane has not even taken the recommendation of the local authorities while transferring the ownership of the said land. Following the preliminary investigation, the DAO sent a letter to LRO on August 10, 2016 requesting the latter to furnish the documents of the land belonging to the farm. By that time, Neupane had retired.Instead of finding the documents, LRO officers were found throwing the related documents into a bush. As the documents were wet, it became really hard for the DAO to read the documents. After hearing about the negligence, a team led by the then Assistant CDO Bishnu Prasad Neupane had recorded the statements of some LRO officials.As informed by Hari Bahadur Bhandari, Chairperson of Guthichaur Rural Municipality, during their visit in 1996/1997, officials of the Land Survey Office had clearly stated that the land now acquired by Neupane and his relatives belonged to the Sheep and Goat farm. He accused Neupane of grabbing government land with the help of some other LRO officials.A complaint has been filed at the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) against the land grab through forgery. "We have no idea where the CIAA is with its investigation. We demand a fair investigation," said Chairperson Bhandari.

In 2016, restricting the ownership transfer of the 590 ropanis of land belonging to the farm, the then CDO Pandit came to Kathmandu to submit the report to the CIAA.

Durga Banjade, CDO of Jumla, informed Republica that the CIAA had deployed its officials for a field study after reading the report. "The teams of CIAA and Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police returned after a field study in Jumla," said CDO Banjade, adding, "We have sent all the original documents sought by the authorities for the investigation. We can't reveal more as the CIAA is still investigating the matter."

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