KATHMANDU: The Pushpalal (Mid-Hill) Highway has only been 64 percent completed in a decade and a half since its construction started.
Even after six years of the project construction, the earlier scheduled period has passed, and there is still confusion in some road sections about where the road will be built.
Suraj Adhikari, information officer for the project said that even though there was a map of the road near the Budhigandaki river, the Ministry of Energy and Water Resources has planned to build a project with a reservoir at that place.
According to Adhikari, even though there was confusion about the graph in Kaski some time ago, it has been resolved now. The project calls for the construction of nearly 415 kilometers of road and 25 bridges. Out of that, the contract for the construction of 250 km of roads and 19 bridges is yet to be signed.
According to the project, contracts for the construction of 134.5 km of roads, 357 km of blacktop, and 18 bridges under the project should be managed in the current financial year alone. Although the period that was extended last time was till the end of the current year, it seems difficult to even complete the contract by that period.
According to the decision of the Council of Ministers, the graph has been changed in one of the road sections under Kaski. The contracting process for road construction, which is 38 km in length in the Bhaise-Jamdu-Melbot-Panighat-Antighar-Armalakot-Kali River Bridge-Amala Bisauni-Lamachour-Joubari-Yamdi bridge section, has started.
The information officer informed the RSS that the Ministry of Energy has sent a letter to construct the road as the reservoir project in Budhigandaki will not be completed for another seven to eight years. The process for road construction is also moving forward in the section that is yet to be signed. The contract in Kaski has been completed and is under evaluation, while the Bahunepati contract in Sindhupalchok has been moved forward.
The contract for the blacktop could not be done because the contract for the gravel was not completed earlier in the two sections of the highway. The gravel contract is ongoing in the Dolalghat and Nepalthok sections.
According to the project, there are still problems with tree cutting in many sections. In order to cut trees, the environmental study should be approved first, and later, when working on that section, a separate file should be created for cutting trees. The cabinet could then go to the ministry and make a decision from there.
The work will be started after accepting the environmental study first, but after reaching the forest area, permission will have to be obtained for cutting again. Now, many sections of Gorkha, Lamjung, and Nuwakot are experiencing delays due to forest fires.
Disputes over the excavation of construction materials, compensation disputes, and the non-maintenance of road boundaries are also major problems.
The government only gives compensation for houses and sheds, but not for land. Officials also say that in some places, local residents are demanding compensation for land after some foreign-invested projects started giving compensation for land.
The road construction, which started in the fiscal year 2007/08, was targeted to be completed in the year 2016/17. Since then, the period has been extended several times.
Last time, the period was extended until mid-July 2023. In the National Transport Policy 2058, as an alternative to the East-West Highway, it was mentioned that another highway would be constructed from the Central Hills.
The government approved the graph on March 9, 2009. It is estimated that the highway connecting the 26 districts of Mid-Hill will connect 215 settlements and benefit nearly 10 million people.
The government started the construction of the project by dividing it into eastern and western sections in the fiscal year 2010/11, and currently, there are five planning offices under the Mid-Hill Highway Project Directorate. Earlier, the project was divided into eastern and western sections, and currently, there are five planning offices.
It is from Chiyo Bhanjyang in Panchthar in the east to Jhulaghat in Baitadi in the west. When its construction is complete, it is estimated that the lives of the citizens of Mid-
Hill will be easier, a new city will be built, and the pressure on the east-west highway will be reduced (RSS).