Experts: Not enough done to avert landslipsAmar Baduwal had planned on visiting his hometown of Ghodaghodi in Kailali along with his sister to participate in the second phase of local elections.
Amar Baduwal had planned on visiting his hometown of Ghodaghodi in Kailali along with his sister to participate in the second phase of local elections. But the plan was thwarted by the landslide along the Muglin-Narayangadh road in the early hours of Friday morning, in which four police personnel perished when their van got crushed under debris.
“I couldn’t decide whether I should go or not once I heard the news of the landslide,” said Baduwal, who eventually chose not to go home and therefore not to vote in this Wednesday’s elections.
Like Baduwal, the condition of the Muglin-Narayangadh road, has put many others in a fix where they are not sure if they should journey through the route.
The traffic along the road resumed from Sunday evening. But the road that witnessed several landslides last week alone offers no comfort to travellers.
Geologists say that the landslides along the road is not going to stop anytime soon.
According to engineering geologist Ranjan Kumar Dahal, a large-scale landslide mass cutting is taking place for the ongoing road expansion project, which has only increased the risk of landslides at the already vulnerable region.
“The project officials have not considered the geography of the area. Instead of slope slicing they are employing slope cutting method to widen the road,” he said, calling the road widening project “faulty” from the initial designing phase.
“Such landslides will continue in the future even if the widening project is completed as remedies are not enough,” Dahal added.
Geotechnical engineer Tuk Lal Adhikari also concurs that the method employed by the project has affected the slope stability, increasing the landslide risk along the road.
“When the Muglin-Narayangadh road was constructed, it was planned as the shortest route to connect the eastern and western Nepal while the other aspects were ignored. That particular road alignment was done in 2036-2038 BS when we lacked advanced geological studies and local understanding of landslide-prone spots were also not taken into consideration,” he said.
The Muglin-Narayangadh Road Widening Project, however, said that there was no cause for alarm, and all risks and safety measures were considered and planned for the undertaking.
Engineer and information officer of the project Shiva Khanal said they were careful while cutting slopes.
“Bedrock is hard and soil top is loose here which makes this section landslide prone. But we are trying to maintain the standard slope to prevent landslides,” he said.
The Muglin-Narayangadh road is the main motor route that links Kathmandu with eastern and western parts of the country. Around 10,000 vehicles ply the road daily.
Travel curfew lifted for elections
The authorities have decided to lift the travel curfew imposed along the Muglin-Narayangadh road in view of the second phase of local level elections being held on Wednesday.
A six-hour travel curfew, from 10am to 4pm, was in place along the 36 km road to facilitate the ongoing road expansion project.
The road was open around the clock until further notice, a project representative said on Monday.
Meanwhile, the authorities are also considering restricting vehicular movement along the road at night to speed up the road expansion works.