Valley-Tarai fast track not a distant dream anymore

Kathmandu, June 30:

A fast track linking the Kathmandu valley with the Tarai will no longer be a distant dream for the Nepalis.

A detailed feasibility study for the construction of the fast track is already underway.

The Kathmandu-Pathlaiya fast track was conceptualised in 1974, but the detailed study got underway from last April with the Asian Development Bank’s grant assistance of $8.5 lakh.

“A Japanese firm, Oriental Consultants Japan, has been conducting the study, which will take some 10 months to complete,” said Dhruba Raj Regmi, deputy director general of the Department of Roads.

It will take $1.1 million to conduct the study. The government will bear the rest of the cost. The study team will also recommend the most feasible alternatives to link Kathmandu with Pathlaiya.

As the fast track is the top priority of the government, construction work will begin as soon as the government finds ways to cover the project cost, he said. Previous studies had estimated that the construction of the fast track will cost between $300 and 400 million.

The Oriental Consultants has been working in association with the ITECO Nepal and Nepal Development Research Institute (NDRI).

Beside upgrading the existing road that passes through Mugling, the Japanese firm will study four different routes to connect Pathlaiya from Kathmandu. It will suggest the best options to connect Kathmandu with Pathlaiya by March 2008.

According to Uttam Pradhan, a senior divisional engineer at the ADB Directorate of Department of Roads, the four alternative routes include 85-km-long Kathmandu-Khatrichhap-Chitlang-Kulekhani dam-Bhimphedi-Hetauda-Pathlaiya and around 82-km-long Kathmandu-Pharping-Chhaimale-Bhimphedi-Hetauda-Pathlaiya.

The feasibility of Kathmandu-Bagmati banks-Chinggan-Chhatiwan-East-west highway-Nijgad-Pathlaiya (100-km-long) and 96-km-long Kathmandu-Bagmati banks-Thinggan-Simadkhola-Hetauda-Pathlaiya routes will also be studied.

Pradhan said the route passing through Pharping-Humane-Bhimphedi and Hetauda has been dropped because the slope of the tunnel was higher at the route. He said the fast track will have two lanes but the same can be turned into a four-lane track.

The project also covers the improvement of the Kathmandu-Kodari road.

Earlier, the United Nations Development Programme spent a huge sum of money to study the appropriate route for linking the capital city with Tarai, conducting the first feasibility study in 1974. “The Oriental Consultants will study all the previous reports,” he said.

According to experts involved in the feasibility study, the existing road connecting Kathmandu with Pathlaiya is 270-km-long and it takes seven hours to negotiate the distance. With the construction of the fast track, which will have a length of 100-km, it will take two to three hours and less fuel to reach Pathlaiya from Kathmandu.