Pushpalal highway connects SikkimWith road connectivity, Nepalis in border areas can easily go to buy daily essentials and sell locally produced items in Sikkim.
Pushpalal Mid Hill Highway, which stretches from Chiwabhanjyang in the east to Darchula in the west, is now connected to the northeastern state of Sikkim in India.
The total length of the Chiwabhanjyang-Darchula road is 1,889 kilometres.
Though the track opening work in Chiwabhanjyang, the Nepal-India border point in Panchthar, was completed nine years ago, the roadway was constructed by the Indian side only recently.
“Panchthar district has been connected to Sikkim via a road network. The construction of the road from northern Sikkim to Chiwabhanjyang was completed on Thursday,” said Chief District Officer in Panchthar Punya Prasad Dhakal.
The Armed Police Force had established a border outpost in Chiwabhanjyang five months ago, around the same time when the Indian authorities had completed the construction of the road till Sokpakha in Sikkim, a seven-hour walk from Chiwabhanjyang.
According to Lekhnath Ghimire, chairman of Yangwarak Rural Municipality in Panchthar, the local authorities had been requesting the federal government for road connectivity from Chiwabhanjyang to Sikkim for the past few years. Two years ago, Ghimire himself had requested the then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai to take the initiative to construct a road from Panchthar to Sikkim.
“We plan to request the federal government to open the border point soon,” said Ghimire.
According to him, the opening of the border point will greatly boost tourism in eastern Nepal.
“Travellers from Sikkim and West Bengal can travel to Pathibhara and Kanchanjunga through the Chiwabhanjyang border point. We can also sell our products, such as ginger, large cardamom, honey, ghee and other milk products, in India via the same route,” said Ghimire.
Nepalis from Chayangthapu, Phalecha and the remote areas of Yangwarak Rural Municipality, where Chiwabhanjyang lies, often go to Sikkim to purchase daily essentials, including food grains, cooking oil and clothes.
Dhanapati Dahal, a local resident of Phalecha who frequents markets in Sikkim, is excited about the road connectivity.
“With the road connectivity, we can now easily sell locally produced items in Sikkim,” Dahal said. “In the past, we had to walk to Uktare in Sikkim since there were no motorable roads. But once the border point officially opens, we can cross into Sikkim and back without hassles.”
The local residents have also requested the government to establish a customs point in Chiwabhanjyang.
“Both the countries will benefit if there’s a customs point here,” said Ghimire.
Indian Sasastra Seema Bal and Sikkim Police Post have security posts at the border point. According to Prakash Adhikari, a journalist in Sikkim, Chief Minister of Sikkim Prem Singh Golay has assured Sikkim residents of development at the border areas.
“Golay has kept the development of Chiwabhanjyang on priority. The language, culture and traditions practised by the Sikkimese are similar to that in Nepal. People on both sides of the border stand to benefit from this road connectivity,” Adhikari said.
The road from Chiwabhanjyang connects to Mechi Highway in Ganesh Chowk, Panchthar. According to the Mid Hill Highway Project Office in Phidim, the road from Tharpu in Panchthar to Chiwabhanjyang is going to be blacktopped soon.
Sikkim shares 99 kilometres of border area with Ilam, Panchthar and Taplejung districts.