“Third World War is happening soon and all men aged 18-60 will be forcibly drafted.”
At the time of the 1981-82 census, rumors like these spread through the Syala village and villagers thus lied about their names with the enumerators. The names they gave belonged to local forests, rivers and everything they could see around, anything but their own names.
Then, in 1984, when officials from the Department of Survey came to the village, another rumor spread that the government would seize the land of people holding more land than necessary.
Thus the villagers got only fractions of their land surveyed. “The villagers missed out on the survey and didn’t get papers for their land, the result of which we are facing now,” says Pembareta Lama, ward chair of Chumanubri Rural Municipality-2.
The women in the area got their citizenship certificates easily but the men, who falsified their names, faced great difficulties in getting theirs. “Large swathes of land were not surveyed. So now we have to live in settlements without land ownership certificates. No matter how much we try, we haven been unable to get the deeds for our property,” Lama adds.
Residents of 115 households of Syala village, Chumanubri-2, live in settlements without ownership certificates. Hundreds of foreign tourists used to come to this popular tourist destination where big hotels, schools and monasteries have been built. But the local people don’t have land ownership certificates.
Around 131 households in the upper settlement of Samagaun in Chumanubri Rural Municipality-1 also don’t have deeds to prove they own the land. Since the area is a gateway to Manaslu and Larke Pass, most houses here run hotels to cater to the regular flow of both domestic and international tourists. Consequently, millions have been spent on building hotels, lodges and other infrastructures in the area.
Bir Bahadur Lama, ward chair of Chumbanuri-1, informs that none of the owners of houses built over 40 years ago in the rural municipality have such certificates. Residents of another settlement Namrung also don’t have certificates. “Thirty-eight households here do not have lal purja,” informs Lakpadundup Lama, a local.
The government has spent millions of rupees to bring drinking water to each household in these settlements. The government has also invested heavily in schools and health posts. But it has not given land ownership certificates to any of the residents yet.
Four years ago, the government, under its plans to solve the problems of the squatters and landless people, made the locals sign forms for land ownership certificates. “We have also recently been made to fill another form,” says Lama. “Hopefully, we will now soon get our certificates.”