Darchula villagers still forced to use cable link to cross Mahakali RiverPeople from about half a dozen villages have been risking their lives to reach the district headquarters.
Aitesiha Budhathoki of Byas Rural Municipality-2 lives in Rapla village, and once every week, descends to Khalanga, the district headquarters, to meet his children who live in the bazaar area for their studies.
To reach Khalanga from Rapla, Budhathoki crosses the Mahakali River on an improvised cable crossing, locally known as tuin, hung precariously with nothing but a gurgling river underneath. If he forgoes the cable crossing, he will have to spend more than 15 hours to reach Khalanga through the Indian territory. But if he crosses the tuin, he reaches the bazaar in just four.
Like Budhathoki, people from about half a dozen villages in the area have for years been risking their lives to reach the district headquarters. The government’s plan to replace the improvised cable crossings over the Mahakali river by constructing a suspension bridge connecting Nepal and India has yet to materialise.
An under-construction suspension bridge connecting Nepal and India at Malghat in Byas Rural Municipality-2 is in a state of despair. Locals say that the construction company has stopped work for a month and a half now.
The contract for the construction of the bridge was signed three and a half years ago, but even the construction of pillars has not been completed so far. The Suspension Bridge Division Office Pulchowk, Lalitpur had set the deadline of mid-January 2022 to complete the construction of the bridge.
According to the Suspension Bridge Division Office, Pulchowk, Lalitpur, the progress of the construction work is slow even after three and a half years. The agreement was signed with Khambache-Ruvina JV Construction Company.
Dhiran Budhathoki, ward chair of Byas Rural Municipality-2, said that the contractor's representative quit the project with the bridge construction work left unattended. “If the contractor had done regular work from January, the bridge would have been built by now,” said Budhathoki. “The contractor is out of contact.”
According to Budhathoki, the construction of bridges in Malghatte, Badugaun and Baku, whose contracts were signed simultaneously with Malghat, is completed. The suspension bridges in Badugaun and Baku came into operation on Thursday. The construction of bridges has been completed in Malghatte, Badugaun and Baku. The local government has coordinated with the Indian government to bring the construction materials to the construction site.
The construction of the bridge started in mid-January this year, more than three years after the agreement, according to Chattan Karki, a local. “From the beginning of the project, the progress was very slow and the work has stopped now,” Karki told the Post. “The monsoon is upon us and we are worried about being disconnected from Khalanga. The level of water in the river has already started increasing but we have no alternative than to cross the river through cable crossings.”
The contractor left the site a month and a half ago saying that work on the bridge could not be done as work was being done on the Darchula-Tinker road section towards Nepal, locals say.
On July 30, 2021, Jaya Singh Dhami from Khangdang Mal of Byas Rural Municipality-2, went missing in the Mahakali river after the Indian Border Security Force (BSF) disconnected the improvised cable crossing Dhami was using. Following the incident, the suspension bridge office asked the contractor company to construct the bridge by mid-January 2022.
“The contractor has not even laid the foundation in certain places,” said Narendra Singh Dhami, another local. “The contractor and the company representatives are out of contact.”