A section of the Beni–Jomsom road, damaged by Kaligandaki River and landslide, in this recent picture. | Photo:Harikrishna Gautam/Republica
MYAGDI, Aug 16: Consistent rain has severely damaged the Beni-Jomsom road making it impossible for vehicles to ply. The road, which was already in a dilapidated condition, was further hit by monsoon, locals lament. Apart from the locals, businesspersons and tourists have been equally affected by its closure.
“Road is our biggest tragedy. It is almost everywhere in the country. If you talk about the road here, it is the one of the most dangerous roads and just imagine what happens when it is not in condition,” tourism entrepreneur from Annapurna Rural Municipality- 3, Indra Singh Sherchan, said. “The entire road has eroded down. There are cracks everywhere. It’s better for heavy vehicles not to ply,” he added.
Since the last one week, vehicles have not passed through the road. There has been consistent rainfall since the last few days. There is risk of landslides while landslides have already damaged some parts of the road.
According to Sherchan, landslides have been noticed at dozens of areas in Myadgi and Mustang. The sorry condition of the only road that links Mustang to Myagdi and rest of the country has affected transportation between the districts.
“This is the only road to reach to the high hills of Mustang. And its condition is very poor. It has already been a week since vehicular movement along the road was obstructed. Only god knows how many more days will it take to resume transportation services,” he said.
Locals informed that the there had been massive landslides along the road and due to consistent rainfall the debris remains to be cleared off.
“There is no way for clearing the debris. No one can go and do it there. It is so dangeous,” Sherchan remarked. “The river had inundated and claimed some parts of the road. With the landslides from the mountains above falling on the road, it seems that there was never a road there,” he added.
He was of the opinion that instead of repairing the existing road, a new road track should be opened. In its existing state, it has been difficult even for pedestrians to walk on the road. He claimed that unless new track is planned and opened, locals of dozens of villages would be cut off.
The road is severely damaged at Kakrebhir of Thasang Rural Municipality by the Kaligandaki River. Locals assume that it would take many months to repair that section.
Dam Bahadur Pun, chairperson of Annapurna Rural Municipality informed that the road has been severely damaged by landslides and by the over flooded river.
“The over flooded river changed its course and damage several settlements and the road along the way,” he said. “Landslides were not a new thing for the road around this time of the year. However, this time even the rivers damaged the road along with damaging lands, crops, and other properties in settlements along its banks. The loss is very severe, we are yet to access it,” he added.
“We have faced such difficulties every year. But the damage done this year, is the worst we have ever seen,” he said, while adding that they have sought assistance from all the departments concerned.
“We do not have enough resources or budget to address the loss or to fix the road. So we have asked the road department and the center for budget and assistance,” Pun said. “The more we delay in addressing these things, the severe the problem will get. Locals and tourists have been equally affected by this,” he added.
Pun informed that the road department is responding well. However, he said they are also trying to coordinate with the department of geology as well. “We are seeking a team of specialist from the department of geology for inspecting the road’s structure. We hope that they can help us in finding better solutions,” he said.
The Beni-Jomsom-Korala road is considered a lifeline of the Gandaki province. It is therefore very important to fix it and keep businesses in the entire province running. However, there is an utter lack of response from the local, provincial and the central government, locals blame. According to Sherchan, the roads would be in better conditions if the concerned departments and the government had realized its importance in time.
“We are bearing huge loss due to the poor condition of the road,” he said. “Lack of proper environmental study while opening the track at the beginning is costing us dearly now. Excess and haphazard use of excavators have shaken the base and integrity of the mountains, that’s why there are many landslides,” he argued.
Meanwhile, CDO of Myagdi, Liladhar Adhikari urged people not to travel through the road until it is repaired and opened for travel.
“We have requested people to use optional route wherever possible. The Beni-Jomsom road section is in a sorry state at several points, we are coordinating with other stakeholders to repair the road as soon as possible,” he added.