The underprivileged Chepang community of Chitwan district is considered backward because members of the community are deprived of education and health facilities and are economically very weak. As many of them reside in rural areas, it’s not surprising that they are so much backward. However, people of the Chepang community residing even in urban areas of Bharatpur sub-metropolitan city face similar predicament.

    Lack of legal identification has prevented people of the Chepang community from owning land and enjoying other privileges guaranteed by the citizenship certificate. There are almost 40 households of Chepangs in Bharatpur-1. Most of them do not have legal identification documents, which has deprived them of basic rights and facilities like electricity and other services.

    Deprived of electricity through legal means, they are forced to install electric meter box illegally. After the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) started clamping down on illegal use of meter box, their line has been cut down. For their illegal action, each household was charged with a fine of Rs 8000. However, the NEA has promised to re-install the line if they receive proper recommendation from the municipality.

    “I along with a dozen Chepangs personally visited the sub-municipality office to get recommendation for installing meter box,” said Lal Bahadur Chepang of Thimura, Bharatpur-1. “However, they asked us to provide land ownership certificate which we don’t have. They told us that we couldn’t receive any recommendation unless we have citizenship.”

    Meanwhile, Mahesh Baral, acting executive officer at the sub-municipality office said that there are strict laws on providing recommendation for facilities of water and electricity supplies, especially after the quake. “We have to abide by the law. And hence, we cannot help them even if we want to,” he added.

    Another local, Purnima Chepang, said they have requested for land registration to the Squatters’ Commission to resolve the problem.

    Hiralal Chepang said, “Among the 40 households of the Chepangs, 26 houses do not have landownership certificate. Although some of them have been staying here for years, they do not have the certificate while some of them have sold their land and are now living as squatters.”

    “We used to live in Gaidakaath before. Because Gaidakaath’s weather was very hot, we shifted here. Like here, we had been living on a non-registered land at Gaidakaath,” said Lal Bahadur. “We have been living here since my grandfather’s time. We are neither provided with land certificate nor with access to electricity.”

    Source : Republica