18 years on, motorable bridge in Jhulaghat still a distant dream

Published On: February 11, 2017 12:50 AM NPT By: Bira Gadal

BAITADI, Feb 11: Jhulaghat VDC of Baitadi used to be a busy market place until the establishment of road network across Karnali region, which severed its link as gateway to India in the western frontier.

Before the roads were constructed, locals of Far-Western region used to visit various cities of India through Jhulaghat. But with the establishment of road network, people of the region abandoned travelling from the VDC, preferring to travel through motorable roads.

This has badly hurt the economy of Jhulaghat, which shares border with India.
The problem, however, could be easily solved with a motorable bridge, according to the locals. 

Gopal Joshi, a local trader of Jhulaghat, has been hearing rumors of bridge construction for almost two decades. But in lack of motorable bridge, his business has been declining every year. Not just Joshi, many traders and businesspersons are earning less as people's mobility has remained restricted without motorable bridge.

Political leaders and ministers visiting the district often assure the locals of constructing the much-needed bridge. However, much to the dismay of the locals, their assurances have just remained hollow promises.

The government had carried out a survey in 1998 for the construction of the bridge. As per the survey, they had planned to construct a bridge measuring 105 meters in length and 4.25 meters wide, which would connect Jhulaghat with India.

In 2006, a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the bridge was prepared. The report stated that the construction would cost an estimated amount of Rs 6.5 million. However, the bridge is yet to be constructed due to lack of agreement between the two countries.

At least two dozen sick people from Nepal visit India to receive treatment every day. There is only a suspension bridge, which is not in a good condition, in the area proposed for bride construction. Those crossing the suspension bridge are always worried when the bridge might break down, according to the locals.

Although there is road access to Jhulalghat from both sides of the border, neither India nor Nepal has shown any interest to construct the motorable bridge, much to the dismay of the locals of Baitadi. 

“Even the locals of Uttarakhand State of India fed up with the lack of interest of both the governments to build the bridge,” said Pramod Bhatta, a local trader of Jhulalghat.

“Despite the demand of the locals from both the countries which is clearly in the interest and benefit of the whole region, our desires for the bridge has remained unfulfilled for years.”

Thousands of locals of India's Uttarakhand visit far western of Nepal for pilgrimage. However, they too have been troubled by the lack of bridge.  

According to Nar Bahadur Chand, chairman of Baitadi chapter of Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI), the local government of Uttarakhand has been supporting the bridge construction in the border. However, they are helpless as the construction can only move forward with the approval of the central government.

“The issue should be taken to high level of both the countries. Otherwise, nothing can be done despite the interest of the locals,” said Chand.

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