Saptari locals halt survey work amid land issuesLocal protestors in Rajbiraj have halted the survey work of Postal Highway in Saptari district due to disputes over the land acquisition process. Residents of Rajbiraj Municipality claim that they have been kept in the dark about land acquisition process of the highway project.
Local protestors in Rajbiraj have halted the survey work of Postal Highway in Saptari district due to disputes over the land acquisition process. Residents of Rajbiraj Municipality claim that they have been kept in the dark about land acquisition process of the highway project. They voiced concerns that many residents will be homeless if the project acquires land to have 15 metres on each side from the centre of the highway.
Locals have demanded that land acquisition issue be resolved through dialogues. Rajbiraj Bijay Das, a local of the area said, “Locals have resorted to halting survey works as they were not consulted during the land acquisition process.”
Construction of Postal Highway in Saptari district is divided into two sections: Kanchanpur to Rajbiraj in the east and Rajbiraj to Balan river in the west. While survey work in the east section is in the final stage, survey work in the west section has been stalled by protesting locals.
Postal highway runs across 15 districts of the Terai region of the country. The 1663-km long network stretches from Kechana of Jhapa in the east to Dodhara Chandani in Kanchanpur in the west. Saptari district covers 40-km of the highway. The project is targeted for completion within two-and-a-half years with a budget of Rs2 billion.
Shailendra Mani Tripati, head of Postal Highway Construction Project Itahari, said, “The project won’t demolish houses unless the land which it stands on is required for the project to move forward. We are willing to compromise on 9 metre on each side from the centre of the highway instead of the current 15m on each side.”
He also said that residents should be cooperative and understand that the highway is being constructed from existing road networks and not from scratch. Mayor of Rajbiraj Municipality Sambhu Prasad Yadav said, “The Postal highway project will move forward by holding dialogues between local representatives and concerned stakeholders.”
Although all political parties in the district raised the issue of the Postal highway during the recently concluded election federal and provincial level elections, they have remained silent so far.
Coordinator of the District Coordination Committee Prabhakar Yadav said, “As the recent survey is supposed to be conducted after awarding tender and before construction work, every stakeholder should be cooperative for this project.”
The cost of constructing the entire Postal Highway is estimated to be Rs25 billion. Once completed, all sections of the highway would be blacktopped and about 125 bridges would be constructed.
The project has been gaining pace across various sections, although it still faces issues of low budget allocation, lack of construction materials, land acquisition hurdles, and slow work progress of contractors in some sections.