Kathmandu, January 1
A Chinese technical team has initiated a preliminary study of the proposed Tokha-Rasuwagadi road, especially for the tunnel section.
The team has started to conduct a preliminary assessment of the Tokha-Chhahare-Gurjubhanjyang tunnel section and will gradually begin the study of other sections of the road project.
Keshav Kumar Sharma, director general at the Department of Roads (DoR), informed that the team has started its field survey of the area where the tunnel is to be built. “The team is active in the field and is expected to complete the preliminary study within a few months.”
The government had planned to build 4.17-kilometre-long tunnel to connect Tokha with Gurjubhanjyang and a 24-kilometre-long tunnel to connect Betrawati with Rasuwagadi.
However, the Nepali Army is currently working on opening the track of the Betrawati-Rasuwagadi section citing that building a road instead of digging a tunnel would be more cost-effective.
On October 13, Nepal and China had signed a memorandum of understanding to develop a 50-km road linking Kathmandu and Rasuwagadi.
The agreement was signed between the two countries during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping.
According to the agreement, China may bear majority of the cost of building the road and tunnel, including the cost of all kinds of studies. The team, which is working in Nepal now, will submit its report and government and Chinese authorities will then start the work on the detailed project report (DPR) and detailed engineering study.
However, the funding modality of the project will be discussed only after the DPR is finalised. The government is hoping that the Chinese government will finance the strategic project that the Chinese construction companies have expressed interest to build under the build, own, operate and transfer (BOOT) model.
During Xi’s visit, DoR and China International Development Cooperation Agency had signed the agreement.
When the project is completed, it will reduce the distance and travel time between Kathmandu and Rasuwagadi.
The existing Kathmandu-Rasuwagadi road is around 125 km long, and passes through Galchhi of Dhading.
This distance will be reduced to 50 km once this project is executed.
A version of this article appears in print on January 02, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.