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Initially after the 2015 earthquake, the government committed to give Rs200,000 in three tranches to each family whose house was destroyed or damaged beyond repair. The amount was later increased to Rs300,000. The first installment of Rs50,000 was provided when the house owner signed an agreement with the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), the second Rs150,000 on completion of plinth level construction, and the last after completion of the roof level.
But to get the second and third tranches, a certification from the NRA engineers indicating that the house complied with seismic-resistant design and building code was mandatory. Land ownership papers were also needed, and many in Harisiddhi were deprived of their compensation despite years of scouring government offices.
In Ward 29, 252 households qualified for the assistance, and only 86 had land ownership papers. Some 58 houses are still waiting for money. The story is similar in Ward 28 which is still getting enquiries from survivors.
Land registration in Nepal began in 1965, but in many ancient settlements like Harisiddhi, the dense cluster of houses in a small area as well as unclear division of land among family members posed a problem in registration. The language barrier and other social factors meant that many still do not have land titles.
“It is a shame that houses that were built on once-public land have got their land titles but not the original inhabitants who have been living here for generations,” says Bharat Maharjan, a researcher on Newa settlements.
To be sure, the government did facilitate the registration of land for survivors after the earthquake, but the latter say the window to register was too narrow and the process unclear.
“They should be able to start the process at any time. But when they define the time, it becomes difficult as not everyone may have money for the process. When people have money, the window to register may not be open,” says Rajesh Maharjan, Chair of Ward 28.