Kathmandu, July 18
Following the controversy related to the initial alignment plan, the Department of Railways (DoRW), under the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport, has said it will start a new detailed project report (DPR) of the Bardibas-Butwal section of East West Electrified Railway from October.
The Ministry of Forests and Environment (MoFE) had strongly objected to the existing DPR of the railway project that is to traverse through the Chitwan National Park. As per the
MoFE, allowing the railway to pass through the national park would adversely affect the sanctuary of wild animals and also pose a threat to the flora and fauna.
Balaram Mishra, director general at the DoRW, said that based on the consultation with the forest ministry, the new alignment is being planned outside the national park. “We have planned to divide the Bardibas-Butwal section into four parts and conduct a new study to come up with an alignment that would mitigate environmental damages.”
At present, the department is conducting a detailed feasibility study in the Pathlaiya to Madi section of the railway project.
After the change in alignment of the railway track, the length of East-West railways will also increase by 28 kilometres to about 978 kilometres. As per the earlier DPR, the length of Bardibas- Butwal section was going to be 108 kilometres.
The department has been conducting DPR of different sections of the 945-km East West railway project. The department has already completed the study of Bardibas- Simara and Bardibas-Kakadbhitta sections.
“We have already started the process of laying necessary ‘track bed’ and constructing small bridges along the railway alignment,” he added.
According to Mishra, the department is, however, facing some difficulties to acquire necessary land for the project. “We have been working in close coordination with the district administration offices to simplify the process, but conflict related to land acquisition with the locals has erupted in many places.”
Till date, more than Rs two billion has been spent for land acquisition and study of the project. As per the initial estimate, nearly Rs eight billion would be required for the land acquisition and detailed study works. The total project cost is estimated at $3 billion.
A version of this article appears in print on July 19, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.