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Bigger, broader, and better by Dasain?


SUNIR PANDEY


BRING DOWN THE WALL: The remains of a half demolished wall in Bansbari.

When Baburam Bhattarai came to power last August, he promised to give the choked roads of the Valley a major facelift. A year later, streets around Kathmandu have been dug up, houses built along roads have been demolished, sidewalks have vanished, and bulldozers are lined up along major thoroughfares. All that remains are heaps of bricks and rubble, and the city has turned into a dust bowl.

PICS: CLIFF THREADGOLD
RECYCLING: A man searches for useable bricks to rebuild near Gyaneshwor.
Although locals of Maharajgunj, Baluwatar, Lazimpat, Kamalpokhari, and Tahachal have been vocal in their protest against the government's forceful demolition drive, it has not stopped the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee (KVTDC) from completely tearing down 100 houses and partially bulldozing a further 425. More than Rs 350 million has already been spent on the demolition program and the Department of Roads' (DoR) purse is expected to be lighter by Rs 450 million by the time all the roads are rebuilt.
OPEN ALL HOURS: A shopkeeper in Budhanilkantha keeps his business running even after half the building was torn down.
The government's no-nonsense approach has surprised many, and earned Bhattarai more praise than contempt. However, officials at KVTDC are quick to point out that road expansion plans were laid down 33 years ago. "The Prime Minister has taken a bold decision to begin what should have been finished decades ago," says Ram Prasad Shrestha, an engineer at KVTDC. According to him, the building code was amended twice in 1993 and 2008, but earlier governments failed to muster up enough political courage to actually implement the policy.
ALMOST CHOKED: A boy clears the debris after houses in Gyaneshwor were bulldozed.
According to the code, structures have to be built at a certain distance from the centre of the road or else they are illegal. But with the government keen to make up for lost time, even legal properties have not been spared.

Rita Rimal bought a piece of land above the Dhobikhola River in Buddhanagar. When the river threatened to wash away her holdings, she built retaining walls. Now her property has fallen prey to the KVTDC's river control program, another development scheme that is keen to ride the road expansion momentum.

LAST ONE STANDING: A house in Gyaneshwor awaits its destiny.
While the Maitighar-Tinkune, Shital Niwas-Baluwatar-Dillibazar, and Lainchaur-Golfutar stretch are on top of the government's priority list, it has earmarked the road from Kamalpokhari to Ratopul to connect the city centre with the airport. 70km of roads have already been bulldozed in the capital, and there at least 20km more to go.
RETURNING HOME: A boy searches through the remains of his house in Hattigauda.
Bhattarai has promised to give Nepalis bigger, broader, and better roads by Dasain. But with one month to go until the festival, the campaign faces newer hurdles along the Lainchaur-Bansbari section. Earlier, the government got around the stay order petitioned by some influential residents of Lazimpat, but this time it is up against immense diplomatic pressures.
HARD LABOUR: A construction worker sifts sand in Gairidhara.

The American, Japanese, and French embassies lie along the Lazimpat road, and the former has asked the state to pay up to $5 million in damages should its walls be razed down. The Japanese embassy says it will cooperate with the Nepali government as long as diplomatic norms are observed.

The BIG QUESTION: Locals of Hadigaun discuss where to move the rubble.
According to the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Missions, "a host state must take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity".
WHO CARES ABOUT SCHOOL: Children play with gate that was torn down in Budhanilkantha.

But if the government decides to pay all or some part of these damages, it will open up a can of worms and everyone affected will be entitled to compensation on their own terms. According to KVTDC's Ramesh Kumar Kafle, compensation is given according to government estimates, which is lower than the market price.

People who depend on the roads for their livelihood, have an altogether different concern. Santosh Sah who owns a small restaurant on the Kamalpokhari-Ratopul section, says he is struggling to pay his bills because patrons have stopped visiting his shop due to the dust and grime. He had to sell his land in the Tarai just to keep his business alive. The next time the roads are widened, to ease traffic or otherwise, his shop will be gone.

See also:
Follow the river, PAAVAN MATHEMA
The development of link roads along the banks of the Valley's rivers could ease our traffic woes

Traffic travails, DEWAN RAI
A lack of coordination among plans and government agencies has contributed to the valley's traffic chaos

The real fast track, RATNA SANSAR SHRESTHA
We should be looking to electric trains, not another road, to solve our transport problems



1. Steve Gorzula

Looking at CNN, BBC, RT, CCTV, and Al Jazeera, I see that most countries use tanks and aerial bombing to produce this type of landscape. It's refreshing to see that it can be done without any civilian casualties.



2. Ram Neupane
Kudos to all the people who had the guts to demolish illegally built structures. None should be spared as it is the LAW - be it local or diplomatic missions.

3. Thomas
BRB's making his mark by destroying things that belong to others, not by creating anything new like powerplants or hospitals or airports.  So what's new?

4. dhedubadar
The issue with the American Embassy should not be a major problem if dealt with properly through diplomatic channels. The idea is to finish the job not only just of dismantling but cleaning up and building wide roads. It would look ridiculous on the part of the Americans or others to have their embassy walls occupy half  the street. No one will blame the Nepalese government for it. National and International media can force these countries to voluntarily dismantle their walls in shame if it comes to that. Just imagine a story in for example al jajeera "The US occupies half of Kathmandu Street".  


5. nasdp
anyone seen the narrowest streets of most developed places on the planets .. be it london, paris, swiss, boston, san francisco or any where else ... wider streets don't make any difference .. narrower streets are actually better for community building. rather than all these destructions, why couldn't BRB think of adding overhead rail-track or better traffic enforcement? or is BRB still stuck in the '60s of wide-Soviet-avenues that falsely shows progress?

6. who cares
1. Steve Gorzula - good one.



2. Ram Neupane- 

you are totally wrong. 

most of those houses - may be more than 98%- are not illegal. they were/are private property, built on private land. 

just cause some govt. declares- yr private land can be looted by the govt. whenever and where ever- does not make the action legal. those property land were bought by the owner with their hard earned money.

is not it amazing- the property bought by the owner (private property) can be grabbed by the goon govt. when ever they want, but the property belonging to all the nepalese like natural resources- river, jungle, mines etc belongs to locals and to utilize such public property nepal has to take permission from those local people and the developer has to pay benefits to those people. 



a few months back, i was supportive of this road expansion. but now i am against it. and all the victims should unit and make this agent terrorist bhatterai pay personally.





3. Thomas- this runs in his blood, but still there are many nepalese who do not see it. this agent bhatterai is not just incompetent but has always been destructive one. 



5. nasdp- today we are loosing our private land so that khatas from outside kathmandu could mover around kathmandu without hassle. if nepal has to develop hydro or mines etc (in public property belonging to all nepalese) in the village of those khates, we have to pay them royalty,  but those khates support when daka govt. loots our private land, bought with hard earned money, to expand road to facilitate those growing no of khate in kathmandu.  



pure tragedy.


even in china, their govt. were unable to loot private land. but their self proclaimed pupil is looting our property. 



7. Carl
The first step towards a new Nepal: Nepal Shining

8. hello
@pure tragedy 
Nepalese : They want better place to live, better facilities, and many more better things but when it comes to sacrificing something  ( most of them illegal) you get to see Hadi Gaun ko jatra. If those 98% are not illegal they need not to worry .. the compensation are promised to be paid. 
Kathmanduities : Richest group of people in Nepal. But sucha miser.
Electricity : Choreko
Property : Illegal land expansion. Bato michnai parne. Jati vaye pani napugne.
Garbage : 200 rs tirera dump collecter lai collect garauna nasakne ani baato ma fohor fyalnee.
etc etc.
Mind you those non-khates you call are pioneer in starting such.


9. who cares
@ Hadi Gaun

why should just a few individuals sacrifice for the betterment of all? what illegal? does it become rule just cause some feudal ruler made it?

the rule when drafted was- the owner of private land should let govt. take away certain meters when govt. wants to expand land. ..... so look at that rule... its private property bought by hard earned money.. its not some baksis from rana or shah or bhatterai.

now where is our compensation.


what if govt. makes a rule that says you should donate one of your eye to blind? are you going to say that yr one eye is illegal?

and by the way, i was happy when this road expansion began, but changed my mind when yr khate neighbors in villages started to create problem in our developments like hydro, mining, melamchi etc etc. ... are not those rivers, jungles property our all nepalese, why those khates are demanding direct benefit from such project.

k, are rivers, jungles khate ko daddy ko property ho?


if someone sues agent bhatterai by comparing these two incidents where one gets direct benefit and another is the victim of dakaiti. we may win the case.


electricity#, who steal more, some living in kathamandu or some khate living in some village somewhere in terai? you go read some news.



garbage: just because some do it does not mean everyone is like them.



Mind you those non-khates you call are pioneer in starting such.

some rana, shah, koirala, deuba dont represent non-khates. 


10. ram kc
In the real world people get money for their property if a highway crosses the anas.

11. Nirmal
In reality Baburam didn't demolished illegally made houses with the help of bulldozers actually he bulldozed officials at KVTDC into doing so which was exclusively their duty. Anyway Baburam can always put "this positive point" in his curriculum vitae. By now daktar saap has many points advantage over other chief saaps of KVTDC.  

12. DR
The problem is overpopulation. Since so many villagers moved to Kathmandu during the war, there is no longer enough bijuli or pani or space for all these people. The gov allowed the import of far too many vehicles, and is now ruining the charm of kathmandu to make way for them. Widening the roads and ruining so many people's lives will only get space for a short while until it gets filled-up again with ever more vehicles. You will be worse off than when you started because now you have even more traffic and an ugly toilet of a city. Battarai should have left well enough alone. All he is doing is making more enemies and wrecking the town while he's at it.


13. DR
The problem is overpopulation. Since so many villagers moved to Kathmandu during the war, there is no longer enough bijuli or pani or space for all these people. The gov allowed the import of far too many vehicles, and is now ruining the charm of kathmandu to make way for them. Widening the roads and ruining so many people's lives will only get space for a short while until it gets filled-up again with ever more vehicles. You will be worse off than when you started because now you have even more traffic and an ugly toilet of a city. Battarai should have left well enough alone. All he is doing is making more enemies and wrecking the town while he's at it.


14. RKS
Like law abiding citizens they have done their duty and cooperated, the same will continue in localities yet to take up the demolition plans and this is going to go on for may be another couple of months BUT is the government prepared to up root electrical & telephone poles and reconstruct pavements,potholes etc.to complete this road widening and beautification process.

LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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