Under-construction, controversial highway inaugurated

DHANGADHI: The Post Highway in Kailali district has been inaugurated without completing the construction works, on Thursday, drawing flaks from various sectors.

Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Ramesh Lekhak and Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ranjit Rae jointly inaugurated the Highway today.

An 18-kilometre stretch under the 89.2-kilometre section of the Highway in the district is yet to be opened while six bridges are under-construction for last three years.

The road project was already brought into a controversy earlier as the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation did not approve the ongoing construction claiming it would destroy 150 hectares of forest lands in the Basanta region.

Minister of State for Forest and Soil Conservation Dirgha Raj Bhat himself had inspected the road project last week and told the authorities to halt the construction.

Meanwhile, local stakeholders objected to the move of inaugurating the under-construction road.

Local human rights activist Gambhir Singh Air suspected that there could be some play of land mafias, which forced the ministers to inaugurate the bridge in a hurry.

Minister Lekhak was questioned about the hurry during the event, to which he responded that procedures were already underway to complete the construction at the earliest.

"We have already managed the issue," he said, adding that the road would lead the far-west to development.

Likewise, local cadres of the opposition parties including CPN-UML and the Rastriya Janamorcha had greeted the guests with flag flags.

Speaking on the occasion, Indian Ambassador to Nepal Ray said the Postal Highway, being constructed with the India assistance, was another milestone in Nepal-India cooperation.