Darchula residents demand resumption of tuin crossingsPeople living in several villages in Darchula are still dependent on tuins, rudimentary ropeway crossings, to get across Mahakali River.
The residents of the northern part of Darchula district have demanded that authorities resume tuin crossings across the Mahakali River. The government had put a stop on tuin crossings amid fear of Covid-19 since March last year.
Though the KP Sharma government had announced to replace all tuins with bridges five years ago, people living in several villages of Darchula are still dependent on tuins, rudimentary ropeway crossings, to get across Mahakali River.
The villagers have been left in hardship as the only alternative to cross the river that acts as a natural border between Nepal and India remains closed.
“The government has already decided to open the Nepal-India border which had been sealed since the nationwide lockdown started. The closed tuin service should also be resumed,” said Ramesh Singh Kunwar, a resident of Byas Rural Municipality Ward No. 3. He urged the authorities concerned to allow the villagers to use tuins as there are no bridges in the area.
The residents of several settlements above Dhaulakot in Byas have to cross Mahakali River to reach Khalanga, the district headquarters of Darchula. They have to cross the river to avail of government services in Khalanga and to reach the nearest marketplaces on the Indian side to buy essentials.
“It takes two days to reach the district headquarters if we use foot trails. We can return home from visiting the district headquarters the same day if we are allowed to cross the river. Using a tuin is risky, but several villages are cut off from other towns if the service remains closed,” said Harak Singh Budhuthoki of Rapla in Byas-2.
Government authorities had recommended constructing 10 suspension bridges to replace tuin crossings in Darchula after Oli had announced plans to replace all tuins during his first stint as prime minister. Only two suspension bridges have been built, one in Lali and the other at Tigram, and four others are under construction. However, the bridge construction work has been halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The residents of Darchula have been demanding the government to construct bridges across the Mahakali River for decades. They were elated with Oli’s declaration to replace tuins with suspension bridges. But the villagers are still awaiting the bridges’ installation.
“We have been urging the government and political leaders to replace the risky tuins with bridges since the restoration of democracy in 1990. But the bridges were never constructed,” said Jagat Singh Dhami of Byas.
The Indian government had agreed to install four suspension bridges at Badgaun, Madgaun and Maal of Byas Rural Municipality and Baku of Malikarjun Rural Municipality one and half years ago. The bridge installation work had started in those places but was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The contractor has requested the District Administration Office to take the necessary initiatives so that it could resume the work, according to Raghubir Singh Saud, the proprietor of Manamalika Construction Service which was awarded the contract to build two bridges across Mahakali River.