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Illegal shops in Khula Manch demolished


Ramesh Lamsal, KATHMAMNDU: The unauthorized shops and sheds at Khula Manch in the heart of the central capital have been bulldozed today.
These sheds and shops were constructed on public land grabbed by an individual who then rented them out to others for operating shops.
Forty three such structures with shutters were demolished today in the presence of security personnel and the Chief District Officer of Kathmandu district, Kathmandu Metropolitan City mayor Bidya Sundar Shakya, and local people’s representatives.
Altogether there were 52 shops at Khula Manch. Among them 43 were new and nine old ones.
The old bus park which was previously located south of the Nepal Electricity Authority Office and north of City Hall was shifted to a space north of the Khula Manch two years ago after the Kathmandu Metropolitan City signed an agreement with a private construction company to build the Kathmandu Tower at the old bus park space.
The construction company, Jaleshwar Swochhanda Bikai Builders Pvt Ltd, is found to have constructed the shops and structures on the north side of the existing bus park at Khula Manch by encroaching on public land. The Khula Manch (open-air theatre) is a public property and it used to be a place in the past where mass meetings and political gatherings used to be held.
The shopkeepers who had taken these shops on rent and running their business from there ran helter-skelter as the team of the district administration office, the KMC and security personnel started bulldozing the shops and sheds.
They said that they took the shops on rent from the contractor Manoj Bhetwal.
“I had paid Rs 1.1 million to the contractor and taken this shop on rent for five years. But they razed my shop without notifying me. The contractor who rented these shops is also not in our contact. I am very much worried as to how can I get my money back from the contractor,” bewailed a sad Mana Maya Khatri, gathering the goods and things inside her shop as the bulldozer started demolishing the structure.
Another shopkeeper Santosh Karki said that he had also paid Rs 1.5 million to the contractor for the space to run his shop from.
Most of the shopkeepers did not even get time to remove goods from their shops when the bull dozer was put to work. Some hurriedly removed goods and articles from their shops. They were very sad and dejected saying their investment has been lost.
The traders accused Bhetwal, the contractor, of collecting Rs 18.25 million annually as rent of these shops. They have said a single shop constructed on the public land at Khula Mancha had been sold by the contractor by taking Rs 1.1 million as salutation amount.
They said Bhetwal has already taken Rs 50 million in advance payment for the shops.

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