Kathmandu, November 9
Construction of Pushpalal Mid-hill Highway is facing problem due to lack of cooperation among ministries.
Nearly 10 million Nepalis will benefit upon completion of the highway, a national pride project. The 1,776 kilometre highway connects 215 settlements of 26 districts.
It starts from Chiyo Bhanjyang of Panchthar district in the far-east and runs up to Jhulaghat of Baitadi district in the far-west.
Construction is not gaining momemntum due to various problems, including lack of cooperation among Ministry of Forests and Environment, Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation and others. The major problems include plans in constructing other projects on the highway alignment, unavailability of construction materials and the cumbersome process involved in getting permission for cutting trees for the highway, said Pushpalal Highway Project Directorate Chief Deepak KC, adding, “The government should make special provision for smooth supply of construction materials for national pride projects,” KC said. Although 344km of the highway has already been blacktopped and 68 bridges have been built, the highway boundary has not been fixed due to problem of land acquisition.
According to KC, people have been voluntarily providing land for construction of the highway, but problems may arise in future for land acquisition. “People are providing land now as they are excited about construction of a major roadway in their locality, but problems might surface in future, if they seek compensation,” he said.
A study is ongoing regarding the two big hydel projects- Sunkoshi and Budhigandaki – which lie right on the alignment of the Pushpalal Highway. KC said it looks like both those reservoir-type projects were going to impact the highway. Track of the Pushpalal Highway runs below the permitted height through these river valleys.
Problem has surfaced in construction of 200 kilometres section of the highway in Ramchhap, Sindhupalchowk, Sindhuli, Gorkha and Dhading districts due to this reason.
The highway project has urged the government to clearly define the boundary of the highway and demarcate its alignment.
Project Chief KC demanded that whether the hydroelectricity projects were going to be constructed or not should be determined and if they were to be constructed the area to be affected by these projects had to be identified.
However, KC said works were in progress to complete the construction of the highway within the deadline in spite of various problems.
According to him, so far 344 kilometres of the highway has been blacktopped, contract has been awarded for the construction of 581 kilometres and construction work was underway.
Contract for construction of 492 kilometers of the highway is yet to be made.
Sixty-eight bridges along the highway have been constructed so far and 24 bridges are under construction.
The construction of the highway has been undertaken by dividing it into five sections.
The project has set up its site offices in Panchthar, Kavre, Gorakha, Parbat and Dailekh to oversee the construction in these five sections.
Once completed, the Pushpalal Highway is expected to serve as alternative to the existing East-West Highway that mainly runs through the Tarai region. Pushpalal Highway runs through the hilly region of the country from the east to the west.
The government had announced Pushpalal Highway as a ‘National Pride Project’ seven years ago although its construction had begun six years before that.
A version of this article appears in print on November 10, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.
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