Mid-Hill Highway section gets bogged down in confusing ruleSince the criterion hasn't been published in the gazette, old rule determining the margins is in effect, officials say.
The Mid-Hill Highway, which is listed as one of the pride projects, has some provisions that need to be adhered to. One of the criteria for constructing the highway is to leave at least 31 metres on either side of the road. But in the Baglung bazaar stretch, there are many houses built as close as 10 meters from the road.
Because the criteria to construct infrastructure haven’t yet been published, the old statute, which has the criteria of 15 metres, is still in effect, said Rameshwore Lamsal, chief of the Division Road Office.
“We know the criteria, which in fact asks for up to 31-metre distance to be maintained on either side of the road. But since it’s not published in the gazette, we can’t forcefully remove the constructions,” Lamsal said. “Local units should pay attention to things related to the passing of maps and the applicable criteria.”
Prior to this, the locals had protested the construction of the highway fearing the project would bring down their old houses. If the constructions are found to be within the declared 31m area, then the government won’t be liable to provide the compensation, said Ashish Thapa Magar, chief of the project at mid-hill highway construction. “For now, we have been working under the existing rule, that is 15 metres, but the new criterion is 31 metres,” he said. “But if the state orders, we can pull down the houses built within the limit.”
While the initial plan was to lead the mid-hill highway through Baglung’s traffic chowk, the project later revised the plan citing it would mean loss of many houses. So the project later dug up the road across Bangechaur, Ramrekha to Upallachaur. The revised plan of the project too was delayed owing to administrative hassles. Now, even if the project has resumed, the revised criterion is likely to cause further standoff between the project workers and locals. Amid this, the Baglung Municipality has stopped approving maps for land that is within the state-assigned criteria.
Moreover, the project has been delayed by months, which has troubled pedestrians. Ram Prasad Subedi, an engineer at the project, said that the work will commence after Tihar.
Once operational, the road will facilitate smooth connectivity with the western part of the district from the headquarters. Kamal Poudel from Badigad said that the project being nowhere near completion stands to pose more difficulties for the locals. “I don’t know why our people’s representatives and lawmakers are not serious about this project. Construction began about three years ago and there are still no signs of it reaching completion any time soon.”