Collapsed Naxal road to open for one-way traffic from Feb 16The Bhagwati Bahal-Bal Mandir road section at Naxal that had caved in last month will open for one-way traffic from February 16.
The Bhagwati Bahal-Bal Mandir road section at Naxal that had caved in last month will open for one-way traffic from February 16.
According to the Department of Roads (DoR), the repair works are moving ahead smoothly and one-way traffic will be allowed on the road section from the next week.
Shanker Group, which is responsible for the maintenance, had assured the road would come back into operation by February 10, but frequent changes in design compelled the government to extend the deadline by a week.
The road section has been sealed since January 9 as a sinkhole swallowed up one lane of the street, opening a cavity measuring around 25 metres deep. The road section had caved in following extensive digging at the construction site of DoubleTree by Hilton hotel nearby. DoubleTree by Hilton is being constructed by Jagadamba Hospitality Group, a subsidiary of Shanker Group.
“The repair work seems satisfactory. The opening of half of the road portion will
ease traffic that has gone haywire ever since the road was sealed,” said Ayodhya Shrestha, Regional Director at the Central Road Directorate, adding the repair works are being carried out from 4:00am to 8:00pm every day.
The road department has taken Rs6.3 million in security deposit from Shanker Group.
Shrestha had led a three member committee formed by the government following the road collapse. The committee, including senior division engineers of the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure, has concluded the incident occurred despite the developer adopting proper measures.
According to a separate study of the road department, the main reason behind the collapse of the road is “complications with design”. “The developer had designed the project based on a finding of a study that the land at the construction site is dry. However, breakage of sewage and drinking water pipes beneath the road, later, turned the soil wet causing collapse of the roadway,” Shrestha said, reiterating the incident happened in spite of proper safety measures adopted by the developer.
However, the Good Governance and Monitoring Committee of the Legislative-Parliament has drawn a conclusion that the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) had allowed the developer to go ahead with the hotel construction without fulfilling due procedures, including Environ-ment Impact Assessment (EIA) and public hearing. The committee has recently formed a sub-committee to investigate the matter.
KMC, however, stated the developer was allowed to carry out the construction after the latter met the due procedures. “All the processes have been fulfilled. We have already directed the developer to stop the construction works,” KMC Chief Executive Officer Rudra Singh Tamang, adding the involvement of a number of government agencies has created confusion over jurisdiction for further proceedings.
The hotel construction has not only impacted the road, it has also hit nearby buildings. Locals have complained some of the houses have sustained cracks following the road collapse. According to KMC, a preliminary study has found five houses have sustained cracks.
Tamang said they are in touch with Shanker Group and the developer is ready to compensate losses incurred by the locals.
The Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has also started investigating the matter. Officials from the anti-graft body have already made a field visit.
Shanker Group Managing Director Shahil Agrawal told the Post the road would come into full-fledged operation by February 25 to 30. “It has taken longer than expected as we are developing a complete concrete structure,” he said.
On the parliamentary committee’s allegations, Agrawal said: “We have followed all legal procedures. As far as EIA is concerned, it takes nine months to one year to complete. We have already submitted a report to the government and hearing has also been concluded.”
DoubleTree by Hilton is a hotel chain operated by Hilton Hotels and Resorts, one of the largest hotel chains in the world.