Forest clearance on Fast Track route speeded up

Kathmandu, July 13

The Nepali Army (NA) has accelerated clearing the felled trees in the Makawanpur district section of the Kathmandu-Tarai Express Way (Fast Track), clearing 92 per cent of trees that were cut down for the project.

According to Brigadier General Gokul Bhandari, who is also the spokesperson for Nepal Army, only eight per cent of the forest area that would need to be cleared for the Fast Track remains now. “The remaining works in terms of forest clearance should be completed within two months,” he said.

It is estimated that around 114,000 trees would need to be cut down to make way for the national pride project, of which 111,500 have already been cut.

As per Bhandari, the NA has been facing problems in clearing the remaining trees due to incessant rain in Lendada and Budhune of Makawanpur district.

NA has been assigned full responsibility to execute the Fast Track project, which it has segregated into three segments. Out of the 76.2-kilometre-long Fast Track, it plans to construct 17 km on its own, hire dependable Nepali contractors for 37 km of the stretch and sign up foreign contractors for the remaining 22.2 km of tunnel and bridge sections.

“We have initiated the construction of the project based on the feasibility study, which was conducted by Asian Development Bank back in 2008,” Bhandari said, adding, “Moreover, NA’s Engineering Department had also done a detailed engineering survey. Based on the findings of the NA and ADB, we moved towards developing a detailed project report (DPR),” he stated.

On June 15, the NA had short-listed six international bidders to prepare a new DPR. The bidders included AF Consult of Switzerland; a joint venture of Yooshin and Pyunghwa Korea; Louis Berger Consulting India; Meinhardt Hong Kong of China; SMEC International of Japan; and Soosung Engineering China. It has asked all the aforementioned contractors to send the technical and financial proposals of the project.

“We will soon finalise the contractor for the DPR,” said Bhandari. He further said that the DPR is expected to be completed within the next four to six months. The project is expected to be wrapped up four years after the completion of the DPR.

Though only a width of 25 metres of the Fast Track will be metalled, NA has cleared a breadth of 30 metres. Of the total length, 4.9 km of the Fast Track will lie in Kathmandu district, 7.9 km in Lalitpur, 56.7 km in Makawanpur and 7.6 km in Bara district.