Kathari to be linked by railways within a yearKathari in Morang district will be connected by Indian Railways within a year if there are no obstructions from Nepali side, General Manager of Indian Railways Services Rajendra Singh said.
The proposed rail link envisages laying a broad gauge track to Kathari from Bathana, India, a distance of 18 km. The Indian government will be constructing the railway track at a cost of Rs 2.80 billion. However, a dispute over land compensation has held up the track laying work on the 13 km stretch from the Budhnagar border area in Morang to Kathari.
“Railway construction works on the Indian side have been completed. But due to a disagreement over land compensation, work on the Nepal side has not progressed,” said Singh. If the problems are sorted out, the Indian government has targeted connecting Kathari with a broad gauge track by October 2016.
Meanwhile, the railway station at Bathana has been completed and it was inaugurated on Tuesday. Singh lamented that the project had been delayed on the Nepal side. However, preliminary building works like the construction of a platform, overhead tank and railway yard are progressing in Budhnagar, said Tirthankar Jana, an engineer of Tatiya Constructions.
Indian Railways Construction International has been given the task of laying the train track while Tatiya has been contracted to construct bridges for the project. Around 90 percent of the work related to laying the track bed, the layer of gravel on which the railway track will be placed, has been completed.
“However, other work has been halted due to the compensation dispute,” Jana said. “Work will be expedited immediately after the dispute is sorted out.”
Among the five broad gauge railway projects planned by the Indian government for different border areas, the Nepal government has acquired 119 bighas of land for the Bathana-Kathari railway. It was handed over to Indian Railways Construction International two years ago.
The government has paid Rs 600 million as land compensation, but some dissatisfied landowners in Kathari filed a writ at the Appellate Court. Since then, the entire project has been at a standstill. The government had fixed the compensation at Rs 90,000 to Rs 2.5 million per kattha.
Last year, landowners Padam Prasad Gautam, Dhuran Lal Majhi, Garki Majhi, Budu Lal Majhi including others filed a writ at the Appellate Court against the land compensation evaluation committee.
After the railway is completed, Kathari will be connected by both cargo and passenger trains. Government officials said that industrial and business activities would increase as a result of the rail link. The project said that a railway platform 1,500 metres long and 150 metres wide would be built at Kathari.
n Track bed of the under-construction 18km broad gauge railway that links Kathari of Morang and Bathana of India. Post Photo