KATHMANDU : As residential and commercial areas are rapidly growing in the Kathmandu valley, agricultural lands in the capital is shrinking day by day. A study entitled — ‘Urban Growth Trend of Kathmandu Valley and its Projection in a ‘Business as Usual’ Model’ carried out by Kathmandu Valley Development Authority (KVDA) showed that agricultural lands are rapidly turning into a concrete jungle. Of late, it is discovered that people are now shifting their residence from city centres to rural and sub-urban areas.
As per the report, there was 394.12 sq kms of agricultural land in the year 2000, which was contracted by 13.2 per cent to 342.08 sq km by 2010. On the other hand, the valley witnessed 103.96 per cent growth in residential area and 106.35 per cent in mixed residential and commercial areas within the decade. Rural settlement has expanded by 64.35 per cent from 1.13 sq km in 2000 to 1.86 sq km in a decade.
“Our study shows that people are using their agricultural land for residential purpose. Due to lack of control over land use, urbanisation in the valley is in chaos,” said Saroj Basnet Senior Urban Planner. Citing that there were visions and integrated development plans for the valley since 1968, he asserted, “Despite having well developed plans and vision, they could not be implemented due to the lack of political will, clear policy, land use map and weak
“Relatively affordable land price, physical infrastructure and accessibility of water are main causes for rapid urban-isation outside the ring road,” said Basnet. He claimed that if the government does not intervene in the present pace of urbanisation, there will be neither agricultural land nor open space in the valley by 2050. Stating that the development of infrastructure is largely demand driven, he said, “Till date we could not develop our cities as per the plans, which has resulted in haphazard urbanisation.”
To develop the valley in planned and systematic way, the government has Kathmandu Vision 2020, Kathmandu Valley Integrated Development Plan, Land Use Policy 2012, short-term, mid-term and long-term development plans. Though, these plans and policies may not be implemented anytime soon, but it is certainly not impossible to implement them.
Yogeshwar Parajuli, Commissioner of KVDA, said, “We agree that these plans and policies have remained in paper only. However, now we are optimistic with the positive sign that there is a political will for developing the valley,” stressing that it could be only possible if there is strong political will and public co-operation. Blaming a problem of coordination among government bodies itself, he said that they have proposed to establish a physical development committee to coordinate and share information for the over-all development of the valley.
Informing that KVDA has proposed a bundle of especial programmes and policies to be addressed in the upcoming budget, he said, “The degrading scenario of the valley could only be improved if the budget addresses this issue in a proper way.”
According to the study, rapid urbanisation was witnessed especially in urban fringes during the decade. It shows that ward number four of Kathmandu Metropolitan City and ward number nine of Kirtipur witnessed the maximum growth by 62 per cent whereas Dhapasi, Gongabu, Jorpati, Mahankal, Manamaiju, Satungal, Sitapaila, Kapan, Gothatar, Tinthana and Imadol are some other major areas to experience high urban growth.
“The government should first figure out a clear policy on land use in order to manage urbanisation in the valley,” said Gagan Thapa, CA member from Nepali Congress. “Till date there is no government authority that looks and plans for the valley as a unit, however, there is KVDA with limited authority,” said Thapa, adding that for the holistic development, KVDA should be given full authority.
“The government is repeating the same mistake that it committed 30 years ago. Now is the time that it should seriously step up for the overall development and planned urbanisation,” he added. According to him, 60 per cent of the problem can be solved just by amending policies, changing the working pattern and enhance political will on the issue.