Kathmandu, May 15
The Pashupati Area Development Trust has started working towards blocking the Tilganga-Tamraganga road that passes along Slesmantak forest at the Pashupati area, from today.
PADT is constructing a concrete wall at both ends of the road segment.
PADT’s action came nearly three years after the Supreme Court’s order to halt the operation of the road on the premises of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Before the SC order, UNESCO, on 11 May 2012, had asked the PADT to close the road, warning that it would remove the Pashupati area from the list of the World Heritage Sites if PADT failed to follow the instruction.
Following the letter, advocate Tulsi Simkhada had filed a writ petition at the SC, demanding action from the authorities to act as per the UNESCO’s letter. A joint bench of Justice Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Anil Kumar Sinha had issued an order to block the road stretch stating that the road was a threat to Slesmantak forest.
Pradeep Dhakal, a member secretary of PADT, said, “We hope to get support from stakeholders to block the road permanently for preserving our unique heritage site.”
The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport had built the 675-metre long and seven-metre wide Tilganga-Tamraganga road in 2007-2008, during the tenure of the then prime minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal. The road, however, did not come into full-fledged operation after it drew flak from locals and various organisations, forcing the then Dahal-led government to drop the road plan.
Recently, the road is being used only by a handful of commuters as it is not fit for vehicular movement.
The road is the shortest distance from Tilganga to Guheshwori, and was viewed as an alternative route to the crowded Chabahil-Sankhu road.
The road was also viewed as a ‘game changer’ by the people in three municipalities — Kageshowri-Manohara Municipality, Shankarapur Municipality and Gokarneshwor Municipality. It could benefit around 350,000 people in these municipalities as they avoid travelling via the long and mostly crowded, Chabahil-Sankhu road to access the Ring Road.
Rajaram Pudasaini, spokesperson for Kageshowri-Manohara Municipality, said the government must give them a better option for blocking the road. He said traffic at Chabahil-Sankhu road could be decreased by 40 per cent if the road was to be brought into operation.
Pudasaini also suggested that the current problem of the road hampering the heritage site could be averted if the Tilganga-Tamraganga road was shifted around 200 metres east, towards the airport.
Local leaders have also requested the PADT to hold a round table discussion before permanently blocking the road. “We hope that the government will provide us with a suitable alternative as the public here is in no mood to accept the PADT’s decision of blocking the road,” Pudasaini said.
A version of this article appears in print on May 16, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.