Chamari-Thori road project draws ireLocal residents have expressed dissatisfaction over the contractor’s handing over of the road in an incomplete state.
The local people of Thori Rural Municipality in Parsa have expressed their dissatisfaction over the handing over of the Chamari-Thori section of Postal Highway. The contractor handed over the 30km road stretch to the government in an incomplete state, local residents say. The Chamari-Thori road project was initiated under the second package of the Postal Highway in Parsa.
Around five kilometres of the road stretch is yet to be completed, says Prakash Khanal, a civil society leader and a local resident of Thori Rural Municipality Ward No. 1.
“The construction of a 200metre stretch in the eastern side of Thute stream that borders wards 2 and 3 and around a kilometre’s stretch in Hanumantar Danda of ward no. 2 has been left incomplete,” said Khanal. “The construction of the road stretch cannot be termed completed since sections of the road are yet to be built.”
For the local residents of Thori, the construction of the road is a priority since the Birjung-Thori stretch of the Postal Highway gives them direct access to Birgunj. According to Pradhumna Gautam, a local resident, the local people have been demanding authorities to construct the road section for the last three decades.
“This road is our lifeline because this is the only major road that passes through Thori. The completion of this section will ensure easy mobility and shorter commute time for us,” said Gautam.
The local people plan to stage a protest against the contractor’s handing over of the incomplete road section. An all-party meeting called in Thori recently formed the Incomplete Postal Highway Road Construction Struggle Committee to organise protests, saying the contractor has violated the terms of agreement of the road project.
The meeting was attended by Ram Prakash Kunwar, chairman of Thori Ward No. 1; Kishor Tamang, chairman of Thori Ward No. 2; Bal Kumar Basnet, chairman of Nirmal Thori Consumers Committee under the buffer zone of Chitwan National Park; and local residents.
“We will intensify our protest programmes if the contractor company and the government do not listen to us,” said Gautam.
The road project was initiated at the total cost of Rs 1.17 billion. On October 30, 2017, the contractor company Baniya/Kalika JV had agreed to complete the construction of the road by May 15, 2020. The deadline for the project was extended due to the nationwide lockdown last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Uddhav Neupane, the field in-charge of the contractor company, says the project remains incomplete due to technical difficulties.
“The construction work of around five kilometres of the road section has been left incomplete due to various reasons. Works on the road section in Nirmalbasti, Ward No. 4, were affected because of a dispute in the land acquisition process. In wards 2 and 3, the Chitwan National Park did not allow us to cut down some trees,” he said. “These issues can’t be solved by the contractor company alone. The government has to step in. Only then can we proceed with the construction work.”
According to the contractor company, construction of the road in sections where they faced no objections have been completed.
“It was impossible to broker a deal with the local level and with the park authorities so the contractor decided to hand over the project to the government in its incomplete state,” said Neupane. “We handed over the road project to the consultant, which in turn handed over the project to the Nepal government.”
Indian firm National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited was the technical consultant of the project which was funded by the Indian government.
“The government has to resolve land acquisition disputes and if it invites re-tender or assigns us to work again, we are ready to complete the construction work,” said Neupane.
The construction of the Postal Highway, a national pride project, was initiated in the fiscal year 2006/07 with an aim to complete it within 2017/18. Postal Highway roads interlink parts of southern Tarai and also connect Nepal and India through Bhadrapur in Jhapa and Dodhara Chandani in Kanchanpur.