A jeep plying on the Karnali Corridor track near Aamtada, Kalikot in this recent photo. Pabitra Kumar Shahi/Republica
KALIKOT, Jan 2: Construction of the Karnali Corridor has seen a remarkable progress since the Nepal Army (NA) took over the project’s responsibility in March 2015. The project was in a limbo for nearly two decades before the NA took over. The army has built 66 kilometers of the targeted 196 kilometers. With the progress, vehicles have started to ply on the Khulalu-Simikot road section.
Of the completed road, vehicles are plying along 33 kilometers of the road. Indibir Gurung, an NA personal working on the construction, stated that the track from Laalghati to Ghatparichaur is in condition for the vehicles to ply. NA is making preparation for blasting Bhukakhola hill. “After the hill is blasted, it will extend the road track to 70 kilometers for now,” he said. The hill covers around four kilometers. Gurung said that they expected to open up the remaining track very soon.
The government has allocated Rs 1.48 billion for the entire project. According to the chief of the project Bijaya Kumar Thapa, the construction of a Bailey bridge over the Karnali River at Tumkot has been a huge support. In lack of the bridge, vehicles would not have been to ply on the track opened so far, he said.
“The bridge at that point was much anticipated. Since its completion, the road track has fully come into use. Now, vehicles have no problem to travel from Hilsa to Okharthala,” he said.
“At least half a dozen of vehicles, that basically mostly include jeeps, ply on the road every day. The bridge has further made it easy for the vehicles,” Thapa said.
The encouraging progress made in completing the project has made the people of this region quite hopeful about their future. Considered the most backward region in terms of economic development, locals have now begun to feel that their days of hardships are over. They feel that after the corridor comes in full operation, Karnali is going to develop rapidly.
“The completion of the road will open Karnali’s door for other forms of development. Our farmers and traders will have bigger opportunities to grow and prosper,” said Dambar Budha of Kalikot. “Schools, colleges, hospitals, and other necessary infrastructures will come into existence just like in big cities,” he added. Locals are waiting to see all basic infrastructures in place he said adding that people will be able to save their earnings once they have basic services nearby.
“Getting medical help costs us millions of rupees sometimes if you need to be airlifted. But if the corridor gets completed, we will be able to access at much cheaper costs,” said Budha. “If we want to further educate our children, we have to have really great sum of money in hand. As we don’t have good colleges around, we have to send our children to cities for higher education,” he said. “For us to have all the basic things in the region what we need first is road. Once it is there, everything is going to change.”
People feel that the road will help boost the growth of agricultural, health, education, tourism and the hydro sector, among others, in Karnali. They believe that this part of the country will be a major transit point for trade with India and China. “We are extremely hopeful about this happening and therefore completion of the road is our dream,” Budha said.
According to Anipal Shahi, chief of District Coordinating Committee, dozens of villages of Bajura, Mugu, Humla, Jumla and Kalikot are going to benefit once the road comes in operation. “Earlier, budget allocated for this project would freeze as the contractors would not do complete their allotted tasks on time. After the NA took over, things have really gone pretty well,” he said. The Corridor, which is one of the national pride projects, is expected to complete within three years.