East-west electric railway: DPR of Simara-Tamsariya segment gets go-aheadThe Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has given the go-ahead to conduct a detailed project report (DPR) of the proposed Simara-Tamsariya railway line.
Published at : February 28, 2014
The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation has given the go-ahead to conduct a detailed project report (DPR) of the proposed Simara-Tamsariya railway line.
The DPR of the Chitwan section had been held up for the last eight months after the Department of Forest and Chitwan National Park (CNP) refused to let the study be done citing environmental concerns. Department officials said that they received permission to conduct the DPR last week after the proposed rail route was realigned to avoid core areas of the national park.
A 7-km stretch of the railroad passes through the centre of CNP, according to the Department of Railways. Located in south central Nepal, CNP is the home of the famed one-horned rhino and is a popular jungle safari destination. The Railways Department had hired a consortium of South Korean and local companies to conduct the DPR.
The 114-km Simara-Tamsariya section forms part of the East-West Electric Railway mega project which has planned to build a railway line connecting Mechi in the east to Mahakali in the west.
Rajeshwor Man Singh, officiating director general of the department, said that they would complete the DPR within three months. “Due to biodiversity issues, we changed the alignment avoiding the core areas of CNP as much as possible,” he added.
After the changes in the alignment, the total length of the section would increase from 114 km to 126 km, including 7 km passing through the heart of CNP.
As per the department’s new plan, the 7-km stretch passing through the national park will consist of an elevated track over the proposed alignment of the Postal Highway.
Kamal Jung Kunwar, chief warden of CNP, said that they permitted the DPR with a precondition that an environmental impact assessment (EIA) also be done to determine that the alignment was feasible environmentally.
Meanwhile, DPRs are being conducted on other parts of the Simara-Tamsariya section which forms a major segment of the proposed railway project. This part of the railroad is considered to be vital as it links Kathmandu and Indian Railways across the border in Raxaul.
A consortium consisting of Soosung Engineering of South Korea and a local firm Full Bright Consultancy is preparing the DPR of the section as per an agreement signed in March last year.
According to the government’s target for the current fiscal year, it will start construction of the railway project and complete the DPR of the Simara-Tamsariya and
Tamsariya-Butwal sections. However, Singh said that it would be difficult to meet the target due to the delayed DPR and release of funds for payment of compensation to speed up work on laying the track bed on the 108-km Bardibas-Simara section.
The department plans to start construction of 5 km of track bed on the Simara-Bardibas section. This section’s DPR was completed last year.
CNP and the Postal Highway project have not been able to resolve their disagreement on the improvement of the alignment in Chitwan.
Meanwhile, a high-level official at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport Management said that they had been receiving pressure from some Constituent Assembly members to change the alignment of the Tamsariya-Butwal section of the East-West Railway.
The official said that they had been asked to reroute the railway further south as the proposed alignment passes through land plotting areas.