Kathmandu Valley Outer Ring Road project in limbo

KATHMANDU: Outer Ring Road, an ambitious project of the government to facilitate planned development of the Kathmandu Valley, is unlikely to move forward after the locals refused to provide land for pooling.

The problem was further compounded after the Newa Mukti Morcha (NMM) backed up the locals, who encroached the proposed public land for the ring road.

According to the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW), the project that was launched five years ago envisaged a 66-km ring road, passing through Sallaghari of Bhaktapur, in the outer part of the Kathmandu Valley. The 66+6km-long ring road encircling Bhaktapur had been proposed as the second option.

“The project is almost impossible to come into being after the locals refused to provide land in course of land pooling for the ring road,” said Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, joint-secretary, MoPPW.

“The work has been halted for the past five months,” he added.

The feasibility study of the Outer Ring Road was carried out with the Chinese assistance three years ago. The proposed ring road is of 550-meter width with 250-meter of space on both sides of the road.

Following extensive discussions and settlement of various problems, the MoPPW began its work along the Chovar-Satungal section of Kathmandu, two years ago. Additionally, a 300-meter tunnel through the Nagarjun jungle was also already agreed upon.

“We’re unable to buy all the land necessary for the ring road,” said Sitaula. “If the people had cooperated with us, they would have derived the maximum advantage of the project,” he added. “If foreign assistance is invited in the project, Rs 200 million will be required for the construction of 1-km road. If we construct ourselves, it will not cost more than Rs 70 million,” he added.

People who have encroached upon public land protested the plan, rejecting the plea of the government to cooperate with the land pooling process.

“It was planned to pool the land and distribute the locals the managed sites. However, there is no progress at all in this front,” said Sitaula, adding that the problem could be resolved politically.

Pawan Man Shrestha, general secretary, NMM, said that the issue of federalism and conservation of open land had halted the process. “Flow of people has already overcrowded the Valley. All land should not be allowed for construction of houses,” reasoned Shrestha. “We have to develop infrastructure for the existing population and as per the need of locals instead of creating problem by adding huge crowd of people,” he added.

Disappointed Sitaula argued that it was better to develop link roads from the city centre to outskirts of the valley before working on the Outer Ring Road. “Outer Ring Road will be defunct without managed link roads to the existing inner ring road,” he added. The present inner ring road is of 28-km-long, encircling the main parts of the city.