BARA, Nov 26: The construction of the Birgunj-Kalaiya-Bariyarpur road section of the Postal Highway has picked up pace for the easy movement of devotees coming to Mahagadhimai Municipality to attend the Gadhimai festival.
The 19-kilometer road section from Laxumanwa of Birgunj Metropolitan City to Bariyarpur of Mahagadhimai Municipality is under construction. The road section is the only way to reach the Gadhimai Temple from Kalaiya via Birgunj.
The contract for the construction of the road was awarded to Swachanda/Pappu/ Him Sagarmatha JV at a cost of Rs 858.5 million. The construction of the road section gained momentum after Ashok Tiwari, chief of Postal Highway Directorate, inspected the site. Tiwari had asked the contractor to complete the construction of the road before the start of the Gadhimai festival.
The festival, which is starting from December 4, is expected to draw six million devotees. The Gadhimai fair is celebrated every five years, and a total of four million devotees thronged the festival in 2014.
Hundreds of thousands of Nepali and Indian devotees visit the temple through the road section. “If the construction is not completed before the festival, a negative message will be disseminated about the country,” Tiwari said, adding that the devotees will have an easy access to the temple once the construction of the road is completed.
“The road section is 15-meter wide, with sewage on both sides of the road,” said Rajendra Pandey, chief of the project office in Birgunj. According to him, 65 percent of construction work has been completed so far. “Some five months ago, only 45 percent of the construction was completed. Before the Gadhimai festival, the first phase of blacktopping will be completed,” he said.
A total of 31 bridges have already been constructed along the road section. Meanwhile, only the blacktopping of 1.5-kilometer stretch of the road connecting Kalaiya market and Baghaban market is remaining.
As the construction of the road is delayed, the locals of the region have been hit. As per the agreement, the construction of the road section should have been completed by the end of mid-July.
According to the project, the construction is underway in the night time too, as the project should be completed before the Gadhimai festival.
Last year, locals in Province 2 had formed a struggle committee to draw the attention of the authorities concerned regarding the dilly-dallying in the construction of the Postal Highway.
Swachanda Roshan Mahadev Khimti JV had bagged the contract for the construction of the 30-kilometer stretch of the Postal Highway starting from the Kamala River to the Balan River. The contract for the Rs 1.2 billion project was signed on December 24, 2017. This project is supposed to be completed within 36 months from the date of agreement.
The Gadhimai festival is known around the world for the mass sacrificial offering of animals including buffaloes, goats and chicken. The animals are commonly offered in sacrifice by people to render homage to Goddess Kali for fulfilling their wishes.
Meanwhile, the authorities in Nepal and India have taken several restrictive measures to curb the mass slaughter in recent years. In 2014, India announced a ban on the export of animals for mass offering. This led to a decline in the number of buffaloes sacrificed to only 5,000 as compared to 20,000 in 2009.
Since last week, several animal rights groups have been holding mass awareness rallies, urging the people to stop the slaughter of thousands of animals.