Kathmandu, August 28

To preserve the historical places and temple in the Khokana of Lalitpur district, the Nepali Army (NA) has changed the entry point of 72.5-kilometre-long Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track.

The NA, which has been assigned to carry out the ambitious project, informed that the DPR approved by the Cabinet on August 19 has stated that the Sikali Temple and Kodesh area in Karyabinayak will be protected and the entry point will be changed.

“As per the demand of locals of Khokana and Bungmati, we have changed the alignment of Fast Track,” said Brigadier General Bigyan Dev Pandey, spokesperson for Nepali Army.

Pandey further said they had consulted the Department of Archaeology to change the starting point of Fast Track to address the concerns of the locals.

Based on the DPR, construction cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 175.19 billion, which is Rs 63.19 billion more than the earlier estimate of Rs 112 billion. “However, the project cost may go up further in case of natural calamities and need for change in the design of bridges and tunnels,” he informed.

Earlier, NA had forwarded the project cost estimate of Rs 213 billion to the Cabinet.

After coming under widespread criticism, the Cabinet reduced the cost to Rs 175.19 billion.

Brigadier General Sarad Lal Shrestha, the project chief of Fast Track, claimed that South Korean consultant firm Soosung Engineering and Consultancy Co had estimated the cost of the project based on government set rate and international standards.

According to him, NA has set the target of completing the project within next three-and-a-half years. Earlier, NA had aimed to complete Nepal’s first fast track within two years of initiating the project.

“We plan to begin construction of tunnels and bridges by September-end,” said Pandey, adding the process to award tenders to build bridges and tunnels is in final stage.

On February 4, Soosung had submitted the DPR of the project to Nepali Army.

The Ministry of Defence had then forwarded it to the Cabinet on March 16.

As per DPR, the length of the fast track has been reduced by 3.7 kilometres to 72.5 km, primarily due to change in alignment of the route. The NA will build 87 special and normal bridges of the project with total length of 10.59 km. Similarly, it will build three tunnels measuring altogether 6.42 km in Mahadev Danda, Dhendra Danda and Len Danda. The rest of the project will be expressway.

Shrestha further said that they will build three interchange and toll plazas in Khokana of Lalitpur, Budhune of Makawanpur and Nijgadh of Bara district.

Moreover, NA will build 12 passenger underpasses, five vehicle underpasses, one passenger overpass, four vehicle overpasses and 141 box/pipe culverts. Similarly, one rest area will be built in Ranisera of Makawanpur, which is nearly the mid-point between Khokana and Nijgadh.

As per Pandey, the project will be constructed based on ‘Asian Highway Class I’ standards. This means that the highway will have four lanes and the construction material used for the pavement will be asphalt or cement concrete.

As per Shrestha, NA has felled 28,410 trees, while 18,740 trees are yet to be cut for the project. He informed that the NA has completed eight per cent of overall project work so far.

Though only a width of 25 metres of Fast Track will be metalled, NA has cleared a breadth of 30 metres.

Of the total length, four km of the Fast Track will lie in Kathmandu district, 7.9 km in Lalitpur, 53 km in Makawanpur and 7.6 km in Bara.