Prashant Lamichhane, My Republica, 17 April 2018
The Office of the Auditor General has found that 1,692 ropanis of land (1 ropani equals 508.7 square meters) at Fewa Lake in Pokhara has been encroached and registered in the names of private individuals over the last 40 years.
In its annual report submitted to the president last week, the financial watchdog mentioned that 673 various individuals have registered encroached land at the lake in their own names. Referring to land survey data from 40 years ago, the OAG report stated that a previous suggestion for scrapping the registration of public land in the names of private individuals has gone unimplemented .
Around 50 percent of the water in the lake drained out after the Pardi dam burst in 1975, turning part of the lake into dry land. Rampant encroachment of the land then followed. Republica carried a series of news stories last year about construction of hotels, resorts and restaurants on the encroached lake land.
"Officials involved in surveying and illegally registering the land in the name of individuals should be held responsible and such registrations scrapped," reads the OAG report.
The 55th report of the OAG has mentioned some 10 lakes in the tourist city of Pokhara. The report has concluded that 17.06 percent of the Ramsar area or wetlands has been encroached.
The Land Survey Act 2019 BS has mentioned that if any public lands are encroach by individuals or private firms these should be registered under public ownership after survey. The report has also stated that out of 361 ropani blocked by the municipal planning implementation committee from transactions, 161 ropani is found to be private.
Establishments ranging from small restaurants to large hotels have been constructed on encroached land at Fewa . Tourism entrepreneur Karna Shakya has built a big hotel near the lake, which has become squeezed into 4.2 sq km in 2008 from 10 sq km in 1961.
A high level committee formed by the government had warned that the lake would vanish after 75 to 100 years if the encroachment rate is not controlled. Various study reports have suggested controlling the encroachment and the barring of sewerage inflow into the lake from surrounding hotels, restaurants.and settlements.