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Slum dwellers to have own homes
Though the formation of the National Urban Poor Support Fund (NUPSF) could not fulfill their aspiration, the Katmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and Lumanti, an organization working with the slums, have taken another initiation by establishing Urban Community Support Fund (UCSF) for rehabilitating the homeless slum citizens.
Keshav Sthapit, the outgoing mayor of KMC, had declared the establishment of NUPSF on December 4 last year. But lack of proper bills in the government’s mechanism hindered its implementation, and NUPSF has had been delegated to UCSF until the government brings out proper rules and regulations at the national level.

According to Lazana Manandhar, director of Lumanti, the establishment of the UCSF is under the local self-governance act of KMC. She also said that the fund is to rehabilitate the houseless slum inhabitants of Kathmandu.

"We’ll relocate those squatters displaced during the opening of the Bishnumati Link Road under the first phase of implementation," said Manandhar.

Among the many squatters’ households, 36 families were displaced during the opening of Bishnumati link road, which took place one year ago, as per Manandhar. KMC earlier had committed itself to rehabilitate them.

A plot of six ropanies of land has already been purchased at Palikhel of Ward No. 6 in Kirtipur Municipality. And the project, aiming to build 55 to 60 houses in the land, has already been inaugurated by Sthapit.

"We’ll not build ambitious homes. Each one will be of two floors with two rooms and toilet, leaving a small space of one ana land for garden," disclosed Manandhar.

To establish the fund, KMC has contributed Rs. eight million. Similarly, out of the US$50,000 committed by Slum Dwellers International, it has already sanctioned US$20,000. And Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), a network of slums, has also earmarked US$50,000 of which US$25,000 has already been made available. Water Aid Nepal has added Rs. 600,000 to the fund.

Manandhar also revealed that Action Aid Nepal has an agreement of more than Rs. 36,27,000 and would disburse the sum in installments.

Manandhar added that the land and house to be handed to the homeless slum squatters is not free of cost. The occupants are required to pay in installments to make them their own.

"This is a revolving fund established to uplift the status of all slums in the city. So, they’ll have to pay for what they get," she said.

According to her, those slum dwellers slated to receive their homes under the first phase of the project are staying in rented rooms and are paying very minimal amount of rents. And the project aims to charge the equivalent of what they are paying as rent at present once they occupy the newly built houses in the colony.

"We also want the government to be responsible for the success of this project. We wish the authorities to contribute to the infrastructure and make it affordable for the poor," Manandhar said. "This is the first initiation. For its continued success, we hope to work with others as well."

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)

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