Second east-west highway in a year

KATHMANDU; Opening of the track of central hill highway linking east and west of the country is being completed a year earlier than the targeted time. The 1,700-kilometre-long road, second east-west highway of the country, will be completed by the end of the next fiscal year.

According to the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, the highway that begins at Chiyo in Panchthar links Kathmandu, Pokhara, Rukum and reaches Jhulaghat in Baitadi on the border with India. Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, joint secretary, MoPPW said, “The track is being completed in four years though it is a five-year project.”

According to Sitaula, a little more than one billion has been already allocated for the project in the past years. Rs 1 billion is being allocated for the next fiscal year. The highway connects 25 districts in the hilly region across the country and it will be linked with other highways already constructed in the hilly districts.

Some 1,000km of the highway has already been blacktopped in Ilam, Kavre, Kathmandu, Dhading and Kaski districts. About 500km of the remaining 700km of the tracks has been constructed and the remaining 200km in Rukum, Doti, Jajarkot, Panchthar, Udayapur, Tehrathum and Sindhuli districts will be completed within the next fiscal year. Dailekh, Achham and Dadeldhura, the remote districts in the western part of the country will also be linked to the highway.

Sitaula said that the cabinet has already approved the alignment of the track. “There is no dispute regarding the route at the local level,” he added.

“Millions of people in the hilly region will benefit from the highway as it will help their products reach the markets in bigger cities.” However, “We are holding discussions with foreign donors for assistance to blacktop the highway,” Sitaula added.