A truck is seen stuck in a muddy road in Rukum in this recent picture.
RUKUM, July 16: Some years back Rukum residents used to get excited with the construction of roads in their surrounding. They thought the roads would improve transportation services in the area and change the face of their area.
After years into working, the road network has expanded to almost every door in the district. However, residents are not with the outcome. They are rather upset. Some claim that the haphazardly constructed road tracks have added to their woes.
“Ours is one of the most remote places in the country. So, when the road first touched our ground back then, we were extremely excited,” said Dhan Bir Oli, a resident of Rukum and also a member of its District Coordination Committee. “But now, the road tracks have been opened so carelessly that it has only become a nuisance,” he added.
Most of the rural roads in the district have turned into muddy ground, thanks to the monsoon. It is not possible for small vehicles to pass through the roads these days. Even heavy-duty vehicles get stuck.
“The roads should have been designed after studying their impact on the environment and preparing detailed project reports (DPRs). But none of these was performed while opening new road tracks across the district,” Oli reported.
Things have gone worse during the last year. Road construction projects got further boost after the local bodies came into existence. Local representatives themselves have been bringing excavators and digging roads. A local of Chaurhazari, who requested anonymity, accused local representatives of degrading the construction standards of the roads and constructing roads without adhering to government standards.
“Local representatives are under pressure to show work. Apart from that, they have also been focusing on making personal earnings by deploying their excavators to construct road tracks,” he said.
He added that the representatives have ‘spilled budget’ even more haphazardly in the last few days. “Due to the closure of the fiscal year, they are wasting budget. They are constructing road even in the rainy season,” he stated.
In some areas, newly constructed roads are prone to landslides and are directly threatening settlements beneath them. “The roads are being constructed without studying the geological structure of the land. Such reckless construction has weakened the integrity of the land and made it prone to landslide, eventually threatening settlements below such roads,” he said.
The local bodies have been opening tracks without consulting technicians. Local consumers committee are tasked with the responsibility to oversee the construction of the road. In the lack of technicians and engineers to guide, the committee members construct and even repair existing roads by working closely with the excavator operators,
“Members of committees formed at the local level to oversee the construction and repairing of roads are people with political backings. They use excavators to construct senseless roads,” said Pahal Pun, an engineer at the Musikot Municipality. “These roads don’t have proper gradients, bends. They lack even the most minimum technical requirements,” he added.
Mahesh Gurung, the chief administrative officer at Bafikot Rural Municipality, admitted that there are problems with the way roads are constructed. “Studies are conducted before opening new road tracks. But in many places, we have found that the consumer committees do not follow the study’s guidelines,” he said. “Because of this, forests, settlements, natural water sources have been greatly affected,” he added.
According to another local of the rural municipality, Dhana Bahadur Kusari, reckless use of excavators in constructing roads has taken a severe toll on the environment. Landslides have become way more usual than in the past. “If they don’t stop the reckless use of excavators, we will be forced to settle elsewhere, “he said.”Local representatives are digging roads haphazardly without even considering its impact on the surround settlements.”
Birkha Bahadur Bista, the chairperson of Sani Bheri Rural Municipality – 3, denied the allegations claiming that his rural municipality stopped working as they did not get engineers to consult. “We don’t have the technical workforce to advise us on the construction and repairing of the roads. So, we have stopped working on the roads,” he claimed.