Govt struggles to turn two dozen tunnel plans into reality despite budget allocation

Published On: February 23, 2024 09:30 PM NPT By: Himal Lamsal

KATHMANDU, Feb 23: Despite making ambitious plans for expanding the tunnels in the country, the government is facing obstacles in implementation of the plans. Although the government has planned the construction of two dozen tunnels, only one such project is currently underway.

In the current fiscal year, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport has allocated Rs 1.94 billion for 23 projects, including the study and construction of the Tokha Chhahare Tunnel.

Even though seven months of the current fiscal year have already passed, the government has not been able to expedite the construction and study of the tunnels. The ministry has allocated Rs 1.25 billion for the study and construction of Tokha Chhahare Tunnel.

The allocated budget for the tunnel has not yet been fully utilized as expected. Rakesh Maharjan, senior divisional engineer at the Quality Research and Development Center (QRDC) under the Department of Roads said that the environmental impact assessment (EIA) of Tokha Chhahare Tunnel is underway.

“China is in discussions regarding studying the DPR of the Tokha Chhahare tunnel. It is unclear how much of the allocated budget has been spent in the current fiscal year,” said Maharjan.

The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport has included planning for construction of 23 tunnels in the annual program for the current fiscal year out of which the government has allocated a budget for the construction of four tunnels, while budgets have been allocated for the study of 19 tunnels. It is said that the study of the remaining 19 tunnels will be initiated soon.

The ministry has allocated a budget of Rs 450 million for the construction of the Siddha Baba Tunnel. 

In the last fiscal year, the government had allocated a budget of Rs 1.06 billion for the study of 27 tunnels. The then finance minister Janardan Sharma had announced that 27 tunnels would be studied and constructed in the current fiscal year. However, the government could not spend the budget according to the target even in the previous fiscal year.

According to the annual report of the fiscal year 2079/80 BS, the Department of Roads (DoR) completed the feasibility study of more than half a dozen tunnels. However, the construction work has not been initiated due to the lack of budget.

According to the DoR, it has already completed the feasibility study of tunnels along the Dharan-Leuti section as well as Manechaur-BP Nagar Khutia Dipayal section. A draft report has been prepared after a detailed study of the New Baneshwar underpass.

Similarly, the feasibility study of the tunnel from Fusrekhola Chorepatan of Pokhara to Gudikhola of Syangja is also underway. 

The feasibility study of a tunnel along the Rara Highway connecting Jajarkot and Jumla is also in progress, along with the  Baglung-Beu-Narethathi Road Tunnel.

According to the QRDC, the feasibility study of Sunmai Rajdubol Tunnel has been completed. Detailed feasibility studies of the Shaktikhor-Majhimtar Road Tunnel, and Bardaghat-Dumkibas section road tunnels have also been completed.


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