BARA, Dec 18: Nepal Army (NA) personnel have started felling trees within the right of way of the Kathmandu-Tarai Expressway project.
A team led by Brigadier General of Nepal Army, Bharat Bahadur Khadka, is clearing the right of way of the four-lane 76-kilometer expressway that will link Kathmandu with the Tarai districts.
NA personnel has cut down 1,200 trees so far. The army, which has been entrusted the responsibility to develop the mega infrastructure project, is expediting forest clearance work as part of its project preparatory works of the project. The government awarded the project to the NA earlier in August.
Rabi Raj Dangal, chairman of Bakaiya Nagmani Community Forest User's Group, told Republica that the army has already felled 1,200 trees to clear the track of the expressway for to beginning construction works.
NA Spokesperson Nayan Raj Dahal said construction of the expressway has begun now“ "The process of cutting down trees and numbering the logs has begun. Earlier, only the 30-meter track was prepared for the project. As the track is being widened to 50 meters now, we have begun cutting trees within the right of way," he added.
NA had opened the track of the project four years ago.
The national pride project connects Khokana of Lalitpur with Nijgadh of Bara. The road is also strategic as it will connect Kathmandu with the proposed international airport at Njigadh. Upon completion, it will shorten travel distance between Kathmandu and Tarai to about an hour.
With the beginning of works on the mega infrastructure project, locals are hopeful of getting job opportunities.
The then Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal had laid foundation stone for the project in June.
The expressway will be 25 meters wide in Tarai and 23 meters in hilly areas. It will have 99 different bridges as well as two tunnels. Officials of Nepal Army claim that the expressway will be of international standard.
Iccha Bahadur Wagle, a local of Bara, said that locals need to be vigilant to press the authorities concerned for completing the project in time. The project, which is estimated to save fossil fuel worth Rs 5 billion annually, is expected to trigger development activities in Bara, Parsa and Rautahat districts, among others.
The government has spent Rs 1.64 billion to open track of the expressway.