Dispute over Kailali postal road yet to be resolved

Dhangadi, May 29

Amidst a longstanding dispute that has halted construction work on the postal road in Kailali, GR Gawar, an Indian contractor company, is preparing to return, leaving the project incomplete.

A dispute between the contractor company and Kailai District Forest Office over whether or not to change the route of the road had disrupted construction work for long.

The Indian company was entrusted with the construction and black-topping of the 61-km stretch of the road eastward from Campus Road of Dhangadi in 2011.

Though construction of the 39-km stretch of the road section has already been completed, construction of the remaining 22-km stretch has been left in limbo due to the dispute.

Kailali DFO has been lobbying for a change in the route, saying that constructing the road as per the previous survey will destroy a large amount of vegetation in the forest area. However, the contractor company and Kailali locals are in favour of constructing the road as per the old survey.

Locals favour the old survey, claiming that change in the route will displace many families.

Satish Kumar, residential engineer of the contractor company, argued that constructing the road against the old survey would push the cost up and cause additional hassles. He said, “As we can’t work due to the dispute, we don’t have any alternative but to return.” The road construction is estimated to cost around Rs 1.34 billion.

Commenting on the matter, District Forest Officer of Kailali, Sindhu Prasad Dhungana, clarified that his office did not intend to throw a monkey wrench into the project. “We are not against the project, but hundreds of trees at Baijapur area will have to be felled in order to construct the road as per the old survey.

On top of that, construction of the road as per the old survey will expose the forest to human encroachment, which we can’t afford,” he reasoned.

Meanwhile, locals have looked askance at the DFO’s logic.

“In fact, the forest office wants to run the road through Pawera, where flood victims have been residing after encroaching the forest land, only because it knows that the people occupying the forest land will have to leave the place in order to make way for the road and the forest office won’t have to do anything to remove them,” said locals.