Mahakali corridor road project in limboFailure to deposit money in Forest Development Fund has prevented felling of trees for the project to move ahead.
The track opening of the 11 km Kanchanpur-Mal road section in Kanchanpur is yet to take off two years after the project’s contract was signed. Failure to clear trees from the project site has thrown the project in limbo.
When the contract was signed, the deadline set for the project—which falls under the Mahakali Corridor, a mega infrastructural and development project—was the end of this fiscal year.
Laxman Dutta Joshi, project head of the Mahakali Corridor project, said as many as 1,951 trees need to be felled for the track opening to commence.
The 11 km road section starts from Bramhadev, Bhimdatta Municipality ward 9 and stretches up to the Dadeldhura border in Kanchanpur. A cabinet decision on February 27 this year permitted the felling of trees for the project. But the Division Forest Office has not allowed cutting down the trees because of the failure of various ministries including the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport to deposit funds in the Forest Development Fund under the Ministry of Forests and Environment.
The amounts deposited in the Forest Development Fund by the development projects are spent on conservation efforts and promotional programmes by the forest offices.
Similarly, the construction of a 27 km road section in Dadeldhura under the Mahakali Corridor is moving at a snail’s pace since the project is yet to acquire permission from the Division Forest Office to cut down trees. Under this project, there are 10,476 trees to be cut down but only 2,500 have been felled so far.
“We are awaiting formal notice from the forest office to start work on both projects,” said Joshi. “We have sent a letter to the authorities concerned to deposit funds in the Forest Development Fund so that we can expedite work on the projects.”
According to him, only 215 km of track of the 425 km road section of the Mahakali Corridor Project connecting the four districts of Sudurpaschim has been opened so far. “The contract is going to end soon and we haven’t made any headway,” he said.
Meanwhile, project work under the Mahakali Corridor in Baitadi and Darchula has recently started after approval from forest offices to cut down 4,596 trees in Baitadi and 2,433 trees in Darchula. Out of Rs570 million to be deposited in the Forest Development Fund by the government Rs370 million has been deposited so far.
The Mahakali Corridor project work started almost a decade and a half ago to connect the settlements around the Mahakali River from Kanchanpur to Dadeldhura to Baitadi to Darchula with a road network. But the project work has hit a snag in several places.
The Mahakali Corridor Road Project is carrying out the construction of a 334 km road from Bramhadev to Tikharpani in Darchula and the Nepal Army is working to open the 91 km road from Tikharpani to Tinkar.
According to Joshi, the project has started the contract process to blacktop the road sections in places where the tracks have been opened. The contract to blacktop 38 km of road in Dadeldhura and Darchula—6 km from Kuna to Sadani of Parshuram Municipality of Dadeldhura; 12 km from Bet to Uku of Darchula; and 20 km from Khalanga to the north—is divided into four different packages.