"Forceful eviction isn't the answer," say NGO advocates
KATHMANDU, Aug 18: Lumanti, an NGO dedicated to alleviation of urban poverty in Nepal through the improvement of shelter conditions, and Nepal Settlement Protection Society, Nepal Women’s Unity Society and Child Development Youth Network, exhibited the outcome of their 10-day workshop, ‘Planning an Inclusive City for Urban Poor.’ The exhibition was held on Wednesday at Lovely Banquet, Jawalakhel.
Thirteen young architects from India, Indonesia, Nepal, and Thailand came together to formulate an alternative settlement framework for the settlements along the banks of the Bagmati River which have been and are on the process of eviction by the government.
The architects took a lead on proposing the solution to the slums as the government has failed to come up with a strong resettlement plan for the inhabitants of the 44 settlements who have been living along the river.
“This program is an epitome of the fact that youth are the leaders of today, not tomorrow,” said Moti Lama, Executive Secretary of Child Development Youth Network. “We want to show the government that forceful eviction is not the only solution.”
Even after leaving out the 20-meter land area that the government requires to carry out its development programs, there is a possibility for the occupants of the area to settle there, says Lama. The architects have proposed single and duplex housing plans along with community level water treatment mechanisms in these settlements.
Chawanad Luansang from Asian Coalition for Housing Rights who is also a participant at the workshop said that the workshop was initiated after the recent government eviction of slums in the Tripureshwor Bagmati River area.
“This citywide upgrading program for the urban poor communities focuses on the housing rights of the residents without going against the government plans,” he said, emphasizing that the government must start dialogue with these urban poor communities and work accordingly. “From our visits to these communities, we’ve found out that the communities are positive about the government plans but they also want land security,” Luansang said. “They just want 40% of the total land for their settlement,” he added.
Speaking at the event, Smita KC, President of Child Development Youth Network, said, “We want to show the government that we can make the plans for ourselves and be actively involved with the government’s development process.
The eviction plan of the government will not materialize as rightful development if the urban poor are ripped off their land security, as many opine. All concerned should be heading to reducing urban poverty, not aggravating it.