KATHMANDU: The government has started exploring the possibility of building a new trade route to link the two neighbouring nations — India and China. In this regard, the Department of Roads (DoR) is conducting a feasibility study to connect Thori (Parsa) with Rasuwagadhi border point in Rasuwa.
Even though the government is yet to conduct a study, it is estimated that a road of around 200 km will be required to establish a link with Kerung border point of Tibet via Thori-Rasuwagadhi road. Recently, the DoR also invited expression of interest to hire a consultant for the feasibility study of the link, which is to be a new North-South corridor road.
Due to increased bilateral trade with the two nations, the government for long has been planning to establish a short and effective North-South trade route. As per the government plan, the planned Thori-Rasuwagadhi border road will be linked with Birgunj for access to Raxaul, India. Under the Postal Highway project, the DoR is already working on a 53-km-long road project which connects Birgunj with Thori.
“Since it has been kept in high priority by the government, a feasibility study is being conducted to look for possible alignments,” said Rakesh Maharjan, engineer of the DoR’s Asset Management, Contract Management and Quality Control Project, which is responsible for undertaking North-South road plans. As per him, a consultant to be hired will recommend three best alternative alignments based on the feasibility study.
There is a high possibility to extend the new link via Galchhi (Dhading) to Dunchhe (Rasuwa). An official at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) said that the Ministry of Finance has already started discussions to build Galchhi-Dunchhe-Rasuwagadhi road and develop it as a convenient and alternative access for Tatopani route.
Maharjan said that they would hire a consultant within three months and would move ahead for detailed project report in the next phase, if the study shows that the planned link is feasible. Even though the government is implementing a number of projects on the North-South corridor road, Kerung is considered the most viable one for bilateral trade as well as to take advantage of India-China trade in future, according to a MoPIT official.
In December last year, Nepal and China had formally opened the Kerung border making it possible for bilateral trade via Kathmandu-Trishuli-Dunchhe road. In the current fiscal year, the government is spending a total of Rs 1.18 billion in Koshi, Kaligandaki, Karnali, Seti, Mahakali and Bheri corridors of North-South road. As per the DoR, there is a target to open 20 km track in Kaligandaki corridor and 30 km track opening will be completed in Limi-Lapcha-Simikot segment and 35 km of Hilsa-Simikot segment of Karnali corridor. Similarly, construction work of 60 km track opening and five bridges of Koshi corridor have been planned for completion within the current fiscal year.
A version of this article appears in print on September 19, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.