Eight months on, work stalled at Darchula-Tinkar roadSunsera-Mal section of the road was obstructed by landslides in June last year.
The construction work at the Sunsera-Mal section of Darchula-Tinkar Road Project has not resumed since it was halted some eight months ago. In June last year, landslides had swept huge boulders off the hills and blocked the pathway of the under-construction road section at Tosarpani, Ward No 2 of Byas Rural Municipality. The boulders are yet to be cleared away to resume the construction work, say local residents.
The Darchula-Tinkar Road Project had opened a track from Khalanga, the district headquarters of Darchula district, to Tinkar Bhanjyang at the Nepal-Tibet border 12 years ago. The road project is considered one of the most important highway projects for the development of the Sudurpaschim region.
Most of the funds allocated by the government to the project have remained frozen for the last three years.
“The road track was opened until Sunsera in Byas due to our pressure. The Darchula-Tinkar Road Project has been neglecting the Sunsera-Mal road section. In the past two-three years, 60 percent of the funds meant for the Darchula-Tinkar Road Project was frozen because work did not progress,” said Pulendra Bahadur Karki, chairman of Duhu Rural Municipality.
As work has not progressed on the landslide-hit Sunsera-Mal road section, the village of Mal has been cut off from other villages in the area, causing hardship for the villages of Mal.
“We at least had a track opened till our village even though the construction was incomplete. But now even the track is blocked,” said Nanda Singh Dhami, who is a resident of Mal village in Ward No. 2 in Byas.
Raj Kishor Shah, information officer and an engineer of the Darchula-Tinkar Road Project, said Amar Surya JV, a construction company, was awarded the contract for Sunsera-Ghatibagad section of the Darchula-Tinkar Road Project seven years ago.
The road project has asked the contractor to remove the boulders and resume construction work at the earliest.
“At least 194,000 cubic metres of boulders have been broken down so far in order to clear the obstruction. We still need to break down 150,000 cubic metres of boulders blocking the pathway.”
According to Achyut Bilash Pant, chief of Darchula-Tinkar Road Project, the clearance work of the boulders has been delayed due to shortage of explosives. “We have to put in a request for explosives with the Nepali Army. But the Army also did not have sufficient explosives,” he said.
Frustrated by the sluggish work, Byas residents have demanded termination of the project contract with Amar Surya JV.
“The contractor should first remove the boulders from the construction site,” said Harak Singh Karki, a local man. “But they are involved in other tasks. We finally had road connectivity but that too has now been disrupted.”
The project office of Darchula-Tinkar Road Project, says the contractor has been asked to complete the construction work by the end of the running fiscal year.
“The contractor of Sunsera-Mal road has promised momentum in construction work in the next few days,” said Shah, the information officer and engineer of the Darchula-Tinkar Road Project. “The construction work of bridges in Lasku and Nijanggad is at the final stage.”
Four years ago, Darchula-Tinkar Road Project was included in the Mahakali corridor, and since then the construction work of the various road sections under the road project has failed to make progress.
“The construction work of most road sections of Darchula-Tinkar Road Project has been affected after the road project was included in the Mahakali corridor, which is considered the lifeline of the Sudurpaschim region,” said Dilip Singh Budhathoki, chairman of Byas Rural Municipality. “The Darchula-Tinkar Road Project has not prioritised Sunsera-Mal road since they are more focused in the development of the lower region.”