The Ministry of Land Reform and Management (MoLRM) has temporarily stepped back from its decision to prohibit the plotting of arable land following a direction from the Supreme Court. Citing that the MoLRM’s direction violates the right of citizens to buy or sell their property as guaranteed by the Constitution and implementation of this policy is not practical unless the government brings the Land Use Act, the Supreme Court last week issued an interim order to MoLRM not to implement its decision.

Nevertheless, the government has set its eye on enforcing the decision in future either by endorsing Land Use Act as soon as possible or through some other ways. The Land Use Policy of 2015 has highlighted the need to stop plotting of arable land. Stepping on the spirit of the Land Use Policy, MoLRM had issued a directive on August 9 prohibiting plotting of arable land across the country before endorsing the Land Use Act in the backdrop of increasing trend of plotting of agricultural land in the country.

Issuing a directive to this effect, MoLRM had stated the volume of arable land across the country has shrunk notably due to haphazard plotting, which can directly affect the agriculture sector and agricultural production. A week ago, Nepal Land and Housing Developers’ Association (NLHDA) — an umbrella body of domestic housing developers and real estate entrepreneurs — had also criticised the government’s move to prohibit the plotting of arable land stating that such a decision had violated the right of housing and real estate entrepreneurs to run their businesses and also breached the right of individual citizens to decide the fate of their own property.

However, MoLRM had allowed plotting on land received through inheritance on condition that the owner of the land would not divide it into further plots more than once in a single fiscal year for the purpose of sale. “It is an undisputed fact that haphazard plotting of arable land is a threat to agriculture industry. The plotting of arable land will be completely prohibited once the Land Use Act comes into effect,” said Purna Poudel, spokesperson for MoLRM. As per Poudel, MoLRM is gearing up to complete draft of Land Use Act within one month and send it to the Cabinet for approval.
(Source: The Himalayan Times: 25 August 2017)