The embezzlement of government land in Baluwatar has heated up the market. The involvement of high-ranking politicians and employees in the abuse of government land at Lalita Niwas was discovered. The suspects in the embezzlement case have been under investigation. Amid the growing interest on the Lalita Niwas case some other land abuses are also grabbing attention. The Nepal Children's Organization’s land in Naxal, Kathmandu, has been occupied by a corporate group for decades. Vishal Group has been exploiting over 28 ropani land of Bal Mandir for about 30 years now, by exerting pressure and influence on the organization and state officials. The Vishal Group, which is owned by Indian-origin merchants, has occupied the land while the monarchy was still in place. The Group is occupying the land despite the toppling of the monarchy in Nepal. The group has been exploiting the land for decades by paying minimal rent.
Brihaspati Vidya Sadan leased the land for next many years, precisely until 2132 B.S., and further subleased it to Rai School.
Vishal Group leased the organization's land for nominal price but has been charging exorbitant rent to others. In 2049 B.S., the group rented the property for the first time. Since then, the group has increasingly intensified land exploitation by influencing state officials at all levels. During the tenure of the organization's then-president, Rita Singh Vaidya, the organization obtained custody of the land which was under the authority of Bal Mandir. Singh is also the daughter of Congress politician Ganesh Man Singh. Singh led the organization for 30 years.
For Nepal Children's Organization, the president is usually chosen by convention or by political appointment. After ousting the then president of the organization, Rita Singh, on 12 Shrawan 2077 for embezzlement of the land, KP Sharma Oli-led government nominated Vidya Upadhyay Neupane for the post.
Vishal Group has occupied almost 29 ropani of land out of the 119 ropani of land that is under the organization's authority. Vishal Group put forward Purushottamraj Joshi to acquire the land for Brihaspati Vidya Sadan. Brihaspati Vidyasadan school is a school that was founded by Purushottamraj Joshi but is largely owned by Vishal Group, one of the nation's largest commercial conglomerates. The Joshi family has only a modest stake in the school, with the Vishal Group owning the majority of the stock. Vishal Group founded a private school called Brihaspati Vidyasadan in order to acquire the property.
This is how the land was usurped
On 27 Magh 2049, the Group signed a deal to lease 9 ropani of land. The first agreement lasted three years, from 1 Falgun 2049, to 1 Falgun 2052. The agreement stated that neither party may terminate the arrangement, although it might be extended when the agreement period expired. The organization and Brihaspati then reached another deal in 2053.
The contract states that Brihaspati will utilize the property for eight years beginning in 2053. It also stated that Vidyasadan would pay a monthly fee of 1 lakh 50 thousand rupees for 9 ropani every three months, with an annual rise of 10%. According to the deal, the Group obtained the right of the organization's land until 10 Magh 2061.
Before the expiration of the second contract, that ran till 10 Magh 2061, Vishal Group inked a third renewal deal for another 30 years in 2058. Brihaspati now has the right to construct massive structures on the leased property as per this arrangement. Brihaspati appears to have obtained the right to utilize over 14 ropani of land belonging to the organization until 2088, and another 13 ropani of land as per the contract maintained in 2059.
It appears that in 2072, the two sides reached an additional agreement that extended the duration of lease once again. With the extension of the lease duration till 2132 B.S., the group also acquired 28 ropani and 5 annas of land, according to this agreement. The organization was founded in 2021 when the then-royal family donated the property of 102 ropani of land for better causes. The Nepal Lalitkala Pragya Foundation was provided with 49 ropani lands out of the 102 ropani land, while 51 ropani of land is solely owned by the organization. Vishal Group has usurped 28 and a half ropani of the land owned by the organization.
Innocent or protection of the state?
Nepal Children's Organization operates 11 orphanages around the country for children who do not have parents or guardians. The largest children's home is in Naxal, Kathmandu which is close to the organization's headquarters. The orphanage has provided sanctuary to 70 females. Currently, the organization's primary source of income is rent from land leases. However, property lease agreements signed in conjunction with then-officials and commercial houses, contractors, dealers, and diverse organizations are unlawful and disgusting. A committee was also constituted to look into the land dispute.
The government established a high-level inquiry commission to investigate the activities of the organization, ranging from renting land to trades, of the last 60 years, looking for misuse of assets, financial irregularities, law violations, and so on. According to the high-level investigative commission's findings, when the property was leased to Brihaspati Vidyasadan, the agreements were reached immediately without the procedures of public notice, speech, and advertising. It was determined that the choice to lease the property to Brihaspati was done on an ongoing basis that violated the broad norms of financial discipline and transparency. Following a thorough examination, the authorized commission suggested that action must be taken against the then-leadership of the organization as well as the director of Brihaspati Vidyasadan. The findings of the high-level inquiry committee, which determined that the deal violated the law, has not yet been made public.
If the government was to take some action, it could have adopted the report three years earlier and overturned the decision to provide the land of Bal Mandir to the Group. Measures might be adopted to penalize the wrongdoers and demoralize the demands of commercial companies that wish to use the property in perpetuity. In contrast, administration has kept the commission's conclusions under wraps, refusing to make the report public.
Land lease agreement reached in a malicious manner: President Neupane
Vidya Upadhyay Neupane, President of Nepal Children's Organization, claims that the former leadership reached the property lease arrangement in a selfish and dishonest manner. According to her, the agreement states that Brihaspati Vidyasadan can re-lease the land obtained to other party. Brihaspati is earning money by renting the land to Rai School administration under the same arrangement. Brihaspati Vidyasadan subleased the site to Rai School for much more than just one lakh rupees that is displayed, she added.
Not only in Naxal, but other lands under the authority of the organization are being exploited by various businessmen. According to Neupane, land in Teku, Jawalakhel, Bhaktapur and other places have also been leased to various businesses at very low rates.