Photo Essay: Lives Of Illegal Squatters On The Banks Of River Bagmati In Nepal

By Deepak Tolange

The banks of river Bagmati in Kathmandu, Nepal have been filled with settlers who have built make-shift homes of tarpaulin, and sometimes brick. The Nepali government has bulldozed the squatter settlement time and again, and has tried to offer alternatives but many have refused re-location – citing transportation problems, higher costs, political patronage (where some parties and politicians promised the land to them).

The settlement is filled by the “urban poor”, who cannot afford high rent costs of Kathmandu. The blue-collar workers who have migrated to Kathmandu for opportunities usually settle here. Deepak Tolange’s photo essay is a snapshot of the lives of the illegal squatters next to river Bagmati in Thapathali.

A young pregnant woman plays badminton early in the morning. She is living in her maternal house at squatter area. Her newly married husband has gone to Saudi Arabia for work.
A young pregnant woman plays badminton early in the morning. She is living in her maternal house at the squatter. Her newly married husband has gone to Saudi Arabia for work. Copyright:Story South Asia
Radha Choudhary, drying clothes. She is originally from Madhuban, Koshi. After a flood in Koshi swept her house and land, her family migrated to several parts of the country, before ending up in Kathmandu.
Radha Choudhary, drying clothes. She is originally from Madhuban, Koshi. After a flood in Koshi swept her house and land, her family migrated to several parts of the country, before ending up in Kathmandu. Copyright: Story South Asia
A young girl sips her tea as her grandmother sits around the fire early morning, during winter. The family migrated from southern Nepal for better opportunities.
A young girl sips tea as her grandmother sits around the fire early morning, during winter. The family migrated from southern Nepal of country for better opportunities. Copyright: Story South Asia
Sarita Rai sweeps the church floor. She is from Ramechhap and her family fled during the Maoist insurgency. She says, "we have found God, and a new home."
Sarita Rai sweeps the church floor. She is from Ramechhap and her family fled during the Maoist insurgency. She says, “we have found God, and a new home.” Copyright: Story South Asia
Gayanu Magar's husband is coloring her hair. Her family moved to Kathmandu for better work opportunities and ended up living at the squatter area.
Gayanu Magar’s husband is coloring her hair. Her family moved to Kathmandu for better work opportunities and ended up living at the squatter area. Copyright: Story South Asia
Students play during break hour.
Students play during break hour. Copyright: Story South Asia
Shova Shrestha(right) and her friend giggle with their hands covering their mouths. Shrestha's house was swept away by a landslide. She lived at several places before moving to Kathmandu.
Shova Shrestha(right) and her friend laugh with their hands covering their mouths. Shrestha’s house was swept away by a landslide. She lived at several places before moving to Kathmandu. Copyright: Story South Asia
Laxmi Lama collects water from the polluted Bagmati river to wash her sibling. Lama usually returns  home during her school break to help her parents.
Laxmi Lama collects water from the polluted Bagmati river to wash her sibling. Lama is helping her parents during school- break, and usually returns home during break to help her parents. Copyright: Story South Asia
The children play while their parents are at work. Here, they climb the roof of the hut in the squatter.
The children play while their parents are at work. Here, they climb the roof of the hut in the squatter. Copyright: Story South Asia
The youth who live in the squatters level the ground to make a stage to conduct cultural programs.
The youth who live in the squatters level the ground to make a stage to conduct cultural programs. Copyright: Story South Asia
Radha Urau does her homework in the kerosene light while her siblings play.
Radha Urau does her homework in the kerosene light while her siblings play. Copyright: Story South Asia
Deepak Tolange is Nepal based Independent Filmmaker and a Freelance Photographer.
He can be contacted at revelation.deepak@gmail.com. His phone number is 977-9841526593. 

The photos above are subject to copyright. Please contact Story South Asia if you would like permission to use these photos. 

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