Nepal's poor may get king's land

Land owned by Nepal's king may be confiscated and given to poor farmers.

    Gyanendra agreed to reinstate parliament after protests in April

    Nepal's government is looking into whether King Gyanendra owns more land than is allowed by law.

    "We are collecting details of the land and property owned by the king or members of his family and if there is more land than the ceiling it will be seized," Prabhu Narayan Chaudhari, land reform and management minister, said.
       
    Nepalis are allowed to own up to seven hectares (17 acres) of land.
       
    The government has said that the royal family owns at least 1,700 hectares (4,250 acres) of land across the country.
       
    "This is only a preliminary estimate," Chaudhari said. "We think the king and his family members own much more land than this. We are collecting details. The excess land will be distributed among the landless people."

    Figurehead

    The role of the monarch has already been reduced to that of a figurehead and his control of the army taken away – he is also set to receive his first tax bill.

    It is estimated that a million people have no land in the country whose aid- and tourism-dependent economy has been wrecked by war with Maoist rebels.

    The king's property includes 750 hectares (1,875 acres) of land occupied by the Narayanhity palace in the capital, Kathmandu, and the Nagarjuna forest resort on the northwestern outskirts of the city.
       
    The rest is agricultural land, forests and plots in residential areas spread across seven districts.
       
    Officials said the government was also looking for details of land and property owned by former King Birendra and nine other royals killed in the 2001 palace massacre that brought Gyanendra to the throne.

    Fierce protests forced Gyanendra to end nearly 15 months of absolute rule and hand power to the political parties that organised the protests, backed by the Maoists. They are now engaged in peace talks with the government after declaring a ceasefire.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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