Karnali Corridor bringing prosperity in the regionEconomic activities have increased in various districts of Karnali Province with the construction of the corridor.
The daily life of 78-year-old Aja Pharsal of Shantighat in Kalikot Ward No. 6 has changed. Until five years ago, Pharsal had to walk around three hours to reach the nearest marketplace to sell his vegetables. Now, with the construction of the Karnali Corridor, his vegetables reach the market via vehicles.
The number of professional farmers in the remote areas of Karnali has also increased with easy road access. The corridor has not only increased professional farming in the rural areas but also opened doors for development and prosperity in the region.
“With the opening of road tracks, people don’t need to carry daily essentials like oil, salt, rice grains and clothes on their backs anymore,” said Pharsal. “I make more money from my vegetable farming now since I can easily access marketplaces.”
Parilal Neupane, a resident of Neupanebada in Ward No. 1 of Raskot, has been selling cardamoms worth Rs 300,000 annually.
“I make good money from selling cardamoms in the local market,” said Neupane.
A total of 27 people have started vegetable farming in Thirpu, Ward No. 9 of Palata after the road access. Raj Bahadur Bam, acting chief administrative officer of the rural municipality, said, “The road access has increased economic activities in the village. The prices of daily essentials have also become cheaper. After the road access, the commute has been shortened to two hours from one whole day.”
The Jitegada-Bajura road along the Kalikot stretch of Karnali Corridor came into operation last week. Simikot, the district headquarters of Humla, is 196 kilometres from Khulalu of Kalikot.
Ratan Bahadur Shahi, chairman of Kalikot Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that markets had been extended and business activities increased with road connectivity.
“The goods are available in the local markets at the same price as in the district headquarters”, said Shahi.
The construction of the Karnali Corridor is underway at the estimated cost of Rs2.84 billion. The NA said that it cost around Rs 7 million to construct a kilometre of the road stretch.
The road project has also created employment opportunities in various districts of Karnali Province. Anga Bahadur Shahi of Soru Rural Municipality-4 in Mugu district has not gone to India for the past three years, as he’s been working for the road construction project.
Birkha Bahadur Shahi of Photugaun in the same rural municipality said he could earn around Rs 500,000 a year by working in the corridor project. Not only Anga Bahadur and Birkha Bahadur but around 300 people of Sorukot have gotten employment opportunities in their village through the project.
The road project has also made it easy for local farmers to get their products to the market and for daily essentials to be brought to the villages.
“The living standards of the people have improved due to increased economic activities. The prices of goods in the local markets have also decreased due to the road connectivity,” said Dhanbir Bogati of Kalikot.
The price of land connected with the Karnali Corridor has skyrocketed. “Local residents started building houses and huts near the corridor and ran hotels and other shops,” said Kamal Shahi of Kalikot. According to him, the price of land abutting the corridor and rent of houses in the road area have increased by five folds within the past couple of years.
The barren land which was left unused until a few years ago has turned into a market place because of the corridor construction. Local markets have been set up in Dhulachaur of Bajura and Balu, Kuna and Tirthasain of Humla.
“People are now migrating to the roadside from the villages to start businesses,” said Surjit Malla of Dhainakot.
The recent opening of a 122km road track from Khulalu to Balukuna in Humla along the Karnali Corridor has eased vehicular movement in the region. Nepal Army had begun the construction of the road track in March 2015. The construction work has now reached its final stage with only a kilometre of the road track to be opened. The total length of the road from Khulalu to Salisalla is 123 kilometres.
“The remaining one kilometre of the road track will be opened by mid-May. If everything works as expected, the road section will be handed over to the government within the current fiscal year,” said Major Milan Karki, who is also the chief at the Nepal Army Road Construction Task Force in Karnali.