Govt starts initiative to reclaim Nepal Sanskrit University land

Published On: July 8, 2024 11:50 AM NPT By: Ruby Rauniyar

KATHMANDU, July 8: The government has started an initiative to reclaim the 1326 bighas of land belonging to Nepal Sanskrit University that has been occupied by representatives of major political parties. Recently, an article titled "Political Parties in Dispute over Nepal Sanskrit University's 1326 bigha Land" was published in Nagarik Daily (sister publication of Republica), prompting Education, Science, and Technology Minister Sumana Shrestha to take action to reclaim the land.

Government spokesperson Rekha Sharma stated that upon Minister Shrestha's initiative, the Council of Ministers formed a five-member committee chaired by former judge Shekhar Paudel to investigate and reclaim the land.

According to Professor Dr Madhav Adhikari, Registrar of the University, the government-appointed committee will conduct comprehensive studies, research, and investigations into the university's land holdings. The committee will assess both movable and immovable assets of the university and deliver a detailed report with recommendations on safeguarding, management, and other pertinent issues related to the university's properties.

For over two decades, 1326 bighas of the university's land have been illegally occupied, allegedly by individuals claiming squatters’ rights under various guises. These people are associated with political parties like the CPN (Maoist Center), Nepali Congress, and CPN-UML.

"We are grateful to the government for forming a committee to thoroughly investigate and present a comprehensive report for the retrieval of the university's land," Registrar Adhikari told Republica. "However, forming the committee alone is not sufficient; the primary concern is to ensure the university's rightful ownership and utilization of the land," he emphasized.

Adhikari highlighted that the university has been unable to utilize its own land for 23 years, stressing, "The university's land should ideally be a source of educational revenue. It is imperative for the government to expedite the process of returning the university's land so it can be utilized for educational and academic purposes."

"In Dang, the university owns a total of 1336 bighas of land, of which only 10 bighas are currently under university use," Registrar Adhikari disclosed. "All remaining land has been encroached upon by various groups claiming the squatter rights."

A total of 56 families from Dang-Deukhuri donated 1336 bighas of land to Janata College in 2011, to contribute to Sanskrit literature.

"When the government did not allocate financial resources at that time, these families donated the land to run the college. The proceeds from this land were used to pay salaries, allowances to teachers and staff, provide meals, and cover other expenses for students," the experts said.

They further said that at the time, donors donated the land for the revival and development of Sanskrit literature. Ministry of Education Spokesperson Keshav Dahal said that the ministry has formed a committee to search and conserve the land of the university and return it to the university.

"According to the law, it is our initiative to bring the land back to the university," Spokesperson Dahal said, adding, "University land should be used for educational purposes." The ministry is striving to bring back the university's land.

University officials met with Chancellor and Prime Minister of the university, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, and requested the return of the university land mentioned in the land registration certificate. Since 2001, the university has not been able to earn income from land in Deukhuri, and farmers farming the land have been deprived of tenancy registration.

According to government Spokesperson Sharma, the government has formed a committee to return university land in the Dang district, reaching consensus across all political parties. "The five-member committee includes the head of the District Education Coordinator Unit, Dang, Dev Mani Chaudhary as Secretary, former Director-General of the Land Management Office, Rohit Kumar Bhattarai, former Principal of Janata College, Prof Ishwar Pokharel, and Kapil Dangol," Sharma said.

Sharma added that since university land is currently occupied under various claims such as squatters and tenants, the government has initiated efforts to locate and protect university land. She reiterated, "The committee will conduct research and investigation in three months to provide the government with a report on the location of university land, extent of encroachment, tenant rights, and related matters. Returning university land to the university itself remains the government's primary goal."

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