‘The beauty of Pokhara has been tarnished by the practice of planning and non-implementation’
Pokhara. In 2031 BS, for the first time in Nepal, ‘Land Polling’ scheme was introduced in Pokhara. Under the direction of Zonal Magistrate Shankar Raj Pathak, the team led by Engineer Padma Bahadur Chhetri had the objective of taking the people’s land and returning it to the people by developing infrastructure in it.
Named ‘Pokhara Physical Development Plan-2031’, the development plan covered an area of 180 square kilometers in the then Pokhara Nagar Panchayat. According to the then plan, the long term objective was to develop Pokhara as a green garden city, urbanize the western region, make it a city of excellent habitat and beautify the natural resources.
As Pokhara was the center of the then Western Development Region, the land use policy was also implemented at the same time. In which, it was planned to develop Pokhara by dividing it into 11 parts including residential area, business area, sports area, bus park, airport and industrial area.
Land including stadium, bus park and airport was acquired under Pokhara Physical Development Plan. The present land of Gandaki Pradesh Sabha Bhawan was also acquired under the same scheme.
Apart from the steps taken at that time with the aim of long-term development of Pokhara, other new schemes have not been able to play an effective role and even those schemes have not been implemented even after nearly five decades.
The ‘Pokhara Regional International Airport’ is currently under construction on the land acquired for the Pokhara Airport at that time. The Pokhara bus park, which was acquired at that time with a plan, has not been built yet. Instead, in every election, the political parties are moving forward only as their ‘vote bank’.
Thousands of lands were acquired at that time, including a long-term plan for Pokhara. Out of that, only 995 ropanis of land is currently owned by the city development committee. The city development committee itself does not know what other lands are like and in what condition.
“More than 5 percent of all public land in Pokhara has been encroached upon,” said Dr. Ram Chandra Lamichhane, vice-chairman of the Pokhara Metropolitan Urban Planning Commission. That is why the work has not been done as per the 31-year plan.
Dr. Lamichhane has alleged that some of the physical infrastructures currently being constructed in Pokhara have been prepared as per the plan of 031 BS and the rest could not be completed due to the negligence of the concerned bodies. He says, “The beauty of Pokhara has deteriorated even more when the concerned bodies are not strong enough to encroach on the public lands and build the physical infrastructure wherever they want.”
It is not that plans have not been made for the long term development of Pokhara even before and after 031 years. However, those plans are limited to a piece of paper and are in the best interest of the individual.
In order to develop Pokhara 031 years ago, Pokhara Development Plan was carried out in 1965 with the help of Government of India, Pokhara Structure Plan in 1979, Lake Conservation Plan in 1993 and Geological Study of Pokhara in 1998.
Krishna Thapa Integrated Action Plan in 2055, Lekhnath Periodic Plan in 2063, Tourism Master Plan in 2070, Integrated Development Plan of Pokhara Valley in 2070 and more recently Pokhara Metropolitan ‘Has been brought. However, the source of those plans is that all the plans are around 31-year plans, says Dr. Lamichhane.
‘It is the responsibility of the metropolis to make this beautiful pond. For that, the existing structure needs to be rectified, ‘says Dr Lamichhane.
In a round table held by Annapurna FM in Pokhara on Monday, Dr. Lamichhane said that the plan for sustainable development of Pokhara was limited to paper.
Another speaker of the program, Ashok Palikhe, former chairman of Pokhara Upatyaka Nagar Vikas Samiti, said that the development of Pokhara New Road was not in line with the 31-year plan and agreement. He claims that the appearance of Pokhara has deteriorated due to delay and negligence in the implementation of the then plan.
‘Pokhara would have been much better if the plan had been implemented at that time. Even after that, the plan was not made, it was not implemented, ‘said Palikhe. He said that the foot track of Fewatal was also planned without any plan.
The credit for bringing the current Pokhara New Road project goes to the then Zonal Magistrate Shankar Raj Pathak. However, Palikhe says that the infrastructure development of New Road was not implemented as planned.
“Nepal’s biggest problem is that the plans made by one party will not be implemented by the other,” says Palikhe.
Dr. Vedman Bhandari, a planner, says that sustainable development has been hampered even though development and budget allocation is based on statistics. He also said that the problem has arisen due to non-implementation of good plans for long term development of many places in Nepal including Pokhara.