Pushpalal Mid-Hill Highway suffers damage even before its completionThe project deadline has been extended time and again. The latest timeframe ends on April 13 this year.
Pushpalal Mid-Hill Highway runs just above the house of Krishna Prasad Adhikari of Nayabasti in Sundarbazaar Municipality-4, Lamjung.
When the road project started a few years ago, Adhikari was happy to witness the development taking place in his village. But today, Adhikari holds a different view.
“The vehicles run along the yet-to-be-blacktopped road, leaving behind huge trails of dust. My house is covered in thick layers of dust. Everything we eat is covered in dust,” said Adhikari. “Living here is getting more difficult by the day.”
According to him, the condition of the road, which has only been widened and not blacktopped, is deteriorating due to the constant flow of vehicles. The blacktopping of the Lamikhet-Koiralaphant road was halted one-and a-half years ago and is yet to resume.
“Only one side of the road was blacktopped at the Koralaphant area. The road has already sustained damages even before the completion of the upgradation work,” said Damar Bahadur Gurung, a resident of Lamikhet.
The Paudi-Dhimilikuwa-Chepe section of the highway is also in a sorry state. Several landslides over the years have damaged the road stretch, which is only partially blacktopped and asphalted.
According to Laxmi Prasad Chiluwal, a local resident, some parts of the Paudi-Dhimilikuwa-Chepe section were blacktopped two years ago while other parts got asphalted last year.
“The blacktop has suffered damages in some places while other parts of the road are yet to be widened. Landslides over the years have damaged the road and drainage in several places,” he said.
The Pushpalal Mid-Hill Highway passes through Rainas, Sundarbazar and Madhya-Nepal municipalities in Lamjung.
“The road upgradation work is going at a snail’s pace. The contractor has delayed the construction work, leaving the road section in a pathetic condition,” said Ramesh Kumar Pandey, mayor of Madhya-Nepal Municipality.
Officials at the Pushpalal Mid-Hill Highway road project carried out the upgradation work by dividing the Lamjung stretch into three sections.
Bajraguru-Kanchenjungha-Shankarmali JV was awarded the contract to upgrade the 16km-long Paudi-Chepenadi-Thantipokhari stretch in March, 2016 with an agreement to complete the work within two years. However, the road section remains incomplete even after six years of the contract awarding.
According to engineer Gobind Shrestha, the information officer of the highway road project office in Palungtar, out of the 16km road stretch, the construction company has so far blacktopped only a six kilometre stretch.
“Around 10 km of the road section is yet to be blacktopped,” said Shrestha.
Similarly, the 16 km-long Kirinchekhola-Ratamata road section had to be completed by June, 2019. But work in the Ratamata area is still ongoing.
According to Sachendra Mishra, an engineer at the road project in Lamjung, the construction company responsible for building the Kirinchetkhola-Ratamata road blamed obstruction by local residents for the construction delay.
“The construction company claims that the local people did not let them work and even manhandled construction workers. We have urged the respective local unit to coordinate with the construction company and provide security to the workers,” said Mishra.
Likewise, the Ratamata-Bhorletar-Madi section should have been completed by June, 2018. But a two-kilometre-long track is yet to be opened in the area.
The project deadlines have been extended time and again on various pretexts. The latest construction deadline for all three road sections will expire by April 13 this year. But the road project is nowhere near completion within the set deadline.
The construction of Pushpalal Mid-Hill Highway began in the fiscal year 2007-08 with an aim to complete the national pride project by 2017-18. The 1,776 km-long road connects Chiyobhanjyang of Panchthar in the east to Jhulaghat of Baitadi in the west.