Nepal Today

Friday, June 29, 2012

DEMOLITION DRIVE RESUMES FROM LAZIMPAT TO NARAYAN GOPAL CHOWK Kathmandu, 30 June: Amid heavy deployment of police, a suspended demolition drive of what has been called illegal structures resumed from Narayan Gopal Vhowk in Maharajgung and Lazimpat approaches of Indian and British embassies. The drive resumed after a month-long disruption by owners of houses along the road. Owners staging a sit-in in front of Hotel Ambassador were removed. Two bulldozers were deployed and vehicles. The Himalayan Times adds: The government is set to start the expansion of the Lazimpat-Golfutar road from tomorrow despite a concerted protest from the local people. Shital Niwas, the official residence of the president, the foreign ministry, Nirmal Niwan, the residence of former King Gyanendra and the Japanese embassy are situated along the road. Government authorities, though, tried to appease the agitated lot today with a pledge to spare major residential buildings along the five-km stretch. Bhaikaji Tiwari, senior engineer at the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority, said the authority is ready to expand the stretch after a three-month hiatus resulting from the locals’ protest. “I would like to make it clear that the government will not even those private buildings constructed on public land. I appeal to all to cooperate with the authorities in the broad-road initiative,” he appealed. Officials said they will only raze subsidiary structures of the main buildings — garages and compound walls. According to Tiwari, parts of as many as 318 houses and private buildings will have to be pulled down if the government presses ahead with the broad-road initiative as per the law. “Keeping in mind the directives of Prime Minister and local people’s requests, we will try to minimise damage while pressing ahead with the road expansion drive,” he informed. The government has decided to expand the road section by only nine metres on both sides against its earlier decision to expand the stretch by 11 metres on either side. “We took the move in a bid to minimise the damage to private property after several rounds of talks held with locals,” Tiwari informed. DIG Ganesh Raj Rai, in-charge of the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, underscored the need to expand the roads in areas where vital government installations and diplomatic missions are based. “The narrow stretch in Lazimpat has made traffic management difficult,” he reasoned, appealing to all stakeholders to cooperate with the government. Despite the appeals, local residents have vowed to disrupt what they called ‘the demolition drive’ of the government and drive away officials from their areas tomorrow. A joint struggle committee comprising locals from Lazimpat, Maharajgunj and Golfutar have been staging a hunger strike against the demolition initiative demanding that they be compensated for the damaged incurred. SSP Jaya Bahadur Chand, Kathmandu police chief, said his office has put special security arrangements in place to thwart untoward incidents during the demolition drive. “We will use force if the demonstrators hamper the broad-road initiative,” he warned. The government has said that it plans to expand the road in line with a notice published on Nepal Gazette on July 4, 1977. It claimed to have demolished only those structures built in violation of the notice for which there will be no compensation. Officials have pledged compensation for structures built before the gazette notice. Officials said a stretch totalling around 45-km has been expanded since the launch of the initiative five months ago. They said they will widen an additional stretch of 31 km within a few months. Nnnn


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