Haphazard construction of rural roads increases the risk of accidents along the Mahakali Highway section that passes through DarchulaAccording to transportation entrepreneurs and workers, instead of easing connectivity, the rural roads have been causing landslides and transport disruption.
Transportation along the Mahakali Highway has been disrupted at least 12 times in the first six months of the current fiscal year.
According to the District Traffic Police Office in Darchula, landslides and road obstruction caused by falling debris due to the haphazard construction of rural roads blocked the highway seven times from mid-July to mid-August.
“During the rainy season, the highway was obstructed several times, disrupting transportation services,” said Hikmat Bahadur Mahato, the chief at the office. Darchula district has several rural roads connecting far-flung villages such as Hunainath, Dandkot, Kharkada, Rithachaupata and Bantoli to the Mahakali Highway. However, the construction of these roads is done haphazardly without conducting environmental assessment impact surveys, causing the newly-opened roads to give way during the rainy season.
According to transportation entrepreneurs and workers, instead of easing connectivity, the rural roads have been causing landslides and transport disruption. “There is also the danger of road accidents,” said Dilananda Sharma, a local driver. “The road stretch has caved in at several places but the contractor responsible for building the road has done nothing about it.”
Despite the poor state of the newly constructed roads, the local governments in the district are still building rural roads in places like Shailyashikhar, Mahakali and Malikarjun.
Drivers and locals who regularly use the highway have warned of accidents along the highway sections where Panebaj-Bantoli and Airichhana-Hunainath rural roads are currently under construction.
“The highway has suffered damaged in various sections from Panebaj to Airichhana,” said Jaman Singh Dhami, a local of Malikarjun. “It’s important to have rural villages connected by road networks but the contractors should be mindful of the quality of construction work,” said Dhami.
Jagat Joshi, chief at physical infrastructure development office in Baitadi, says he is aware of the challenges caused by the under-construction rural roads. “It is the responsibility to the contractors of the road projects to repair the damage. We have written to the local units about this matter but haven’t heard from any of them yet,” said Joshi.
Around half a dozen rural roads are being constructed on both sides of Karkali-Deuthala-Dallek-Khalanga road, another major roadway in the district. Naugad, Marma, Duhu, Malikarjun, Lekam rural municipalities and Shailyashikar Municipality are also constructing roads in various places in this fiscal year.