Kathmandu, December 21
Though the negotiations to purchase the detailed project report (DPR) from Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services (IL&FS) — an Indian consultant firm — are not over yet, the Nepali Army has begun preparatory works to construct the Kathmandu-Tarai expressway project.
The Nepali Army has started the process to hire a contractor to construct the Budune (Makawanpur district) and Nijgad (Bara district) sections of the mega project. “We plan to begin the construction process through a local contractor and the Nepali Army has published a public notice for this purpose,” said Nainraj Dahal, spokesperson for Nepali Army.
Dahal also informed that though the DPR has not been purchased yet, the Nepali Army has started preparatory works because they need to finish the project within the stipulated time. “Internal assessment of the DPR is continuing, but due to the time constraint we have started other preparatory works,” he stated. “The government has given us four years to complete the project and nearly nine months of that time has already elapsed.”
As per Dahal, the Nepali Army will continue the works as per the preliminary study report of the project, which was prepared by the Army. In fact, it has already opened the track for the expressway.
“The government may not purchase the entire DPR but only parts of it as per our needs and moreover the DPR is not necessary to begin the initial works of the project,” Dahal said.
The Nepali Army has also started felling trees on the Nijgad section of the expressway from last week. Initially, the army had opened a 22-metre-wide track for the project, however the DPR prepared by IL&FS has recommended a 30-metre-wide road for the project.
The Cabinet meeting held on October 13 had directed the Project Directorate Committee, led by Lieutenant General of the Nepali Army Purna Chandra Thapa, to hold discussions with IL&FS and finalise the deal.
Earlier, the government had selected IL&FS to implement the project as per the provision of Build, Own, Operate and Transfer Act. As per the act, if the consultant company gets the entire authority of the project, the cost of the DPR will be adjusted with the project cost. However, in case the consultant that prepared the DPR does not get the authority to construct the project, the government needs to pay the cost of preparing the DPR.
Likewise, a study team formed by the government, coordinated by then vice chairman of the National Planning Commission Min Bahadur Shrestha had also recommended that the government purchase the DPR from IL&FS. The study panel had also recommended allocation in the annual budget for the project and said it could be completed within three to five years with domestic resources.
A version of this article appears in print on December 21, 2017 of The Himalayan Times.