Roads for development

It has the world’s highest mountain — Mt Everest — towering above populated valleys and forested plains and measuring 8,848 metres in height. The lowest point at 60 metres from sea level is located at KechanaKalan in Jhapa district. Nepal is a country of amazing extremes.

With a population of about 30 million, the country’s multicultural fabric of society is made up of different ethnic groups who speak different languages.

Hinduism and Buddhism are two major religions, but there are also people who follow Islam, Christianity and Jainism.

Climatically, it lies in the temperate zone with the added advantage of altitude. The country has been divided into three geographical regions — Himalayan, Mountain and Tarai regions. Nepal is a land-locked nation with China on the north and Indian on east, south and west. As a land-locked nation, it needs adequate road transportation facilities.

Over the years the country has made a tremendous progress in connecting different regions through networks, but we still need to do a lot. Roads play an important role in the country’s development.

The interim plan (2013/14-2015/16) had set a target of having Strategic Roads length of 25,133 kilometres — paved road (7,799 kilometres), new construction (3,000 kilometres) and upgraded road (2,100 kilometres). Also 310 strategic bridges need to be erected and 75 district headquarters have to be connected to road network.

As many 1,609 bridges have come into operation so far. Due to lack of resources and proper implementation of the development programmes, Nepal is facing acute budget constraints. Most of the roads and highways in the past were built under the assistances of different countries like India, China, the USA, Japan and Russia. National highways and feeder roads are included in the Strategic Road Network (SRN).

In the past days, environmental factors had not been taken into consideration for the purpose of road construction. But in the present context, environmental considerations have been given top priority during the design phase of roads — before construction by the international donor agencies in view of mitigating the impacts of road construction on environment. So, road construction works in our country can be made effective and durable with due considerations to environmental factors during its design phase.