Road expansion work along Butwal-Narayangadh beginsUpgradation work has been delayed over the issue of felling trees along the roadsides.
Road expansion work along Butwal-Narayangadh of the East-West Highway section has finally kicked off, around seven months after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli laid the foundation stone for the project.
The Butwal-Narayangadh Road Upgradation Project has been on hold because the number of trees to be cut down along the road stretch was fivefold more than what was mentioned in the project’s Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report.
“The issue of felling trees is yet to be settled. So, we have started expanding parts of the road that has no trees,” said Sujan Adhikari, chief of the road project.
The road project has divided the 114-km road into two sections, Daunne-Gaidakot and Daunne-Butwal. Expansion work along the Daunne-Gaidakot started from November 6. For the first phase, workers will be constructing a new culvert by demolishing the old one. “We are currently working along the Kawasoti-Kharkatta section,” said Adhikari, adding that works related to constructing a bridge in Rajahar are also underway.
The government had conducted the EIA in 2016 that stated that 9,027 trees had to be cut down on both sides of the road stretch for the expansion work. But the number of trees that need to be felled down has now reached 50,352. A fresh assessment was conducted before the project’s launch.
The project said it had sent the file to the Ministry of Forest and Environment seeking the permission of felling trees as required. However, the ministry is yet to take a decision regarding fell down trees at Thumsi, Kawasoti, Chormara, Arunkhola, Daunne, Sunwal, among other areas.
“We are coordinating with the forest ministry about the matter. The road expansion work will gather momentum as soon as the ministry resolves the issue,” said Adhikari.
Besides the issue of felling trees, electricity poles installed along the road stretch also pose difficulties for the road expansion work. Transmission lines of 132kV, 33kV and 11kV run along the road section.
For the road expansion work along the Butwal-Narayangadh stretch, the government has allocated Rs16.99 billion, of which 85 percent will be covered by loan assistance from the Asian Development Bank.
The Department of Roads had signed an agreement with China State Construction Engineering Corporation in February 2019 to implement the project. As per the plan, the existing two-lane road will be upgraded to six lanes within the next four years.
Under the road expansion project, two parallel bridges will also be constructed on the stretch. The road project should also construct at least 15 underpasses or overpasses for the movement of wildlife along the Daunne-Gaidakot section.