Tardy road expansion decried

Kathmandu, January 22:

Finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat today expressed dissatisfaction over the slow progress being made on infrastructure development, particularly road network expansion connecting the district headquarters.

Dr Mahat openly criticised the ministry of physical planning and works and the concerned authorities at not paying attention to construction of the roads. He was speaking at the half-yearly budget review meeting held at the ministry of finance, today.

While giving directives to senior government officials, he said, “We must build additional 1,000 kms during this fiscal year. Otherwise, it will be considered the incompetence of the concerned authorities.”

“Road construction must be expedited at any cost and seven district headquarters need to be connected by motor roads within this fiscal,” Dr Mahat said, “It would be a cheating, if we failed to deliver what we have promised in the budget.”

Giving reference of road development prior to 2001, he said road expansion had been severely affected due to conflict and came down to less than 100 km a year, contrary to about 800 km during the 90s. “This shows that we are on s reverse gear in terms of road development. It is a shame to know that we are still at the same pace even after peace having been established in the country,” Dr Mahat added.

He also assured that the required budget would be made available at any cost. “It is a high time for work. Budget and security reasons are no more excuses for delay in project implementation,” Dr Mahat said.

“If there is any security issue such as explosives, we will sort it out within a day.

But we want work to be carried out,” he said, adding that the technical design and quality of roads must be of international standard.

Earlier, Durga Prasad KC, director general at the department of roads, informed that road development has not been able to pick up due to various reasons, including security and difficult topography.

KC informed that roads connecting six out of the seven district headquarters are likely to be completed during this fiscal. However, progress is rather slow and nothing has yet been initiated to build the road connecting Khotang district headquarters, he said.

In the budget for fiscal 2006-07, the government has allocated Rs 710 million for the construction of roads connecting seven district headquarters within this year under a high priority campaign. The districts include Bhojpur, Shankhuwasabha, Khotang, Jajarkot, Bajhang, Jumla and Kalikot. KC also informed that detailed survey designs of Syafrubeshi-Galchhi (Dhading), Tamakoshi-Manthali and Taplejung-Phidim roads will be completed this year and full-fledged construction will be started next year.

Chief secretary Dr Bhoj Raj Ghimire also expressed dissatisfaction over the snails pace of development of road network. “Excuses such as lack of explosives and budget would not be entertained next time,” he said.

Giving directives to top bureaucrats, Dr Ghimire urged them to pay due attention to people’s sentiment, while carrying out developmental activities. “We must do whatever we can in order to ensure people that the government is functioning,” he added.

He also asked ministries to submit detailed proposals, if any high-priority projects are short of budget or suffering due to any other factor.

“Funds will be made available through any source, but we want end results.”