Current Affairs

International conference on current status and legal issues of land expropriation in Asia organized

Kathmandu, 14 September – Experts gathered at International Conference on Current Status and Legal Issues of Land Expropriation in Asia organized in Kathmandu on Wednesday discussed the complications involved in land expropriation in the region.

ALIN - CAS Conference 015

Welcoming a group of 30 international delegates in Kathmandu, Dr Ram Kantha Makaju Shrestha, Vice Chancellor of Kathmandu University, said that the issue of land expropriation is as important to Nepal as many other countries in Asia and the world.

Delivering his keynote speech Dr Surya Dhungel, a senior advocate of Nepal emphasized that though the comparative legal framework, the procedures and practices of land acquisition and compensation, and approaches for valuating compensation, are now easily available, there are still some gaps and missing elements in the understanding of land expropriation laws in the world.

Highlighting the importance of the Conference, Dr Ikhyeon Rhee, President of Korea Legislation Research Institute said the whole world is “experiencing a sea change in social structures resulting from unpredictable natural disasters, sluggish economies, and technological developments. These changes, and the resulting issues, are hard to resolve alone or among a few countries. Asian countries must draw their efforts together to seek solutions to such changes by utilizing its geographical proximity and commonalities in culture.”

Responding to the paper of Director Manoj Kumar Sinha of Indian Law Institute, Professor Zhu Yan of Renmin University of China said, “China’s rich tradition of all land being in emperor’s estate, with citizens enjoying limited private ownership [only] stands in stark opposition to ‘Lockeian’ orthodoxy.” He pointed out that the ‘Lockean’ justification for private property as the starting point for the legal institution of land acquisition does not hold true in China on all occasions.

Referring to the issue of compensation, Professor Nguyen Nhu Phat of Vietnam Academy of Social sciences emphasized that due to the lack of transparency and openness in legal regime on the entire people’s ownership of land, the land law of his country and its implementation remain an obstacle to the industrialization and modernization process of the country, to building a country of democracy, rule of law and modernization.

The Conference was co-hosted by Korea Legislative Research Institute (KLRI) and Kathmandu University School of Law (KUSL) under the Asia Legal Information Network (ALIN) established more than a decade ago for this sort of initiative.

Welcoming the participants of the Conference, Dr Bipin Adhikari, constitutional expert, emphasized that various statutory enactments presuppose land expropriation in Nepal as in many other countries in case of development of hydropower, highways, railways, airports, industries, irrigation facilities, mining and others.

“Unlike the eminent domain, which allows the state to take private property for public use, expropriation may also refer to a situation where a private entity is authorized by a government to seize private property, even though the purpose may not be purely private,” he said.

“The Nepalese Land Acquisition Act of 1977, which allows the Government of Nepal, if it so deems necessary, to acquire any land at any place for any “public purpose,” sets out the process that must be strictly followed by the expropriating authority and prescribes how the owner must be compensated. The basis of compensation has been most controversial, at least in the perspective of the landowner and the relevant community. Although it is not the case generally, the market value approach is more objective and, therefore, regarded as superior, but is not the basis of compensation always. This leads the process to many controversies.”

According to Adhikari, who is also the Dean of Kathmandu University School of Law, significant papers were presented in the Conference today from the experts of different Asian countries including Vietnam, Mongolia, Korea, India, China and the Philippines.