Land dispute delays Thankot-Bhaktapur transmission line

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    LALITPUR, May 5 :

    transmission-1 The transmission line project to connect Thankot to Bhaktapur remains unfinished even after a decade after the locals in Harisiddhi refused to provide land for the project. 

    According to officials, the 25-km transmission line, if completed, will provide an alternative power connection for Kathmandu Valley during emergencies. 

    The chief of the transmission line project, Tara Prasad Pradhan, said a 4-km section of the transmission line in Bhaktapur and 6-km section in Kathmandu are near completion but work remains obstructed in a 15-km section in Lalitpur due to protests by locals, who are demanding higher compensations for their land.

    The transmission line will have 51 pylons. The locals of Harisiddhi area refused to provide land saying that 

    Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) provides the landowners 25 percent of the price of the land as compensation but Harisiddhi locals are reportedly demanding full price. 

    NEA only provides compensation for 18-meter width along the right-of-way of the transmission line and the locals are allowed to use the land for farming purposes but they cannot erect any physical structures on the land.

    The compensation is fixed by the chief district officer of the district concerned. But in Lalitpur, the price could not be fixed after the protesting locals even resorted to vandalism five years ago.

    Pradhan said that they are still working with the District Administration Office, Lalitpur, to fix the compensation for the land. 

    The project was conceived in 2001 and construction was started in 2004. Earlier, a Chinese contractor had quit the project following protests by locals and NEA hired a Nepali contractor. 

    Locals divided 

    Although it appears that all the locals of Harisiddhi are opposed to the project, there are divisions among them. Those supporting Nepali Congress and the CPN-UML are positive toward the project but those loyal to the UCPN (Maoist) and the CPN-Maoist are against it. Those opposing the project say high-tension lines will have negative impact on the health of the people living nearby. 

    Narayan Neupane, secretary of Harisiddhi VDC, said that the local units of various political parties are divided over the project. 

    Taking to Republica on Sunday, Rajesh Maharjan, the coordinator of the Harisiddhi village committee of the CPN-Maoist, said that the project has failed because the locals were not consulted beforehand. 

    “The government did not abide by the five-point agreement reached between locals and the chief district officer after the locals tore down the walls of the land acquisitioned for the substation of the project,” Maharjan said.

    He demanded that the NEA should shift the alignment of the transmission line away from residential areas.

    However, Krishna Ram Maharjan, former chairman of village committee of the CPN-UML said that his party is not against the project. He however said that the authorities should settle the compensation dispute through negotiations with the locals. 

    The land dispute has become more complicated also because lands belonging to four Guthis [trusts] also fall along the right-of-way in Harisiddhi VDC. 

    Likewise, some locals of Lamatar and Khokana villages are also protesting against the project.

    Experts meanwhile said that the Land Acquisition Act, which was formulated over three decades ago, needs to be amended to suit the present times so that development projects can be expedited.

    Source : Republica