Published On: January 10, 2018 01:27 AM NPT By: Bira Gadal
BAITADI, Jan 10: Business activities in the district like trade and tourism have suffered due to lack of a motorable bridge over the Mahakali River in Jhulaghat.
Religious sites in the district like Tripura Sundari, Ningalasaini, Melouli Bhagawati, Roula Kedar, and Sigas, among others, are revered by Indians as well. However, the number of Indian tourists coming to these places is not increasing as expected due to lack of a motorable bridge to cross the river.
Locals say construction of motorable bridge in Jhulaghat will bring economic prosperity in the district. “We have been demanding for construction of a motorable bridge at Jhulaghat for almost a decade. But we only received assurances for them,” Nara Bahadur Chand, president of Baitadi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said. “The bridge will open up new avenues in the district.”
Locals say the plan to build motorable bridge at Jhulaghat is not taking off due to lack of coordination between the governments of Nepal and India. Locals of Indian section of Jhulaghat also say that lack over motorable bridge over the Mahakali River have troubled them as well. “Although concrete roads have been built in both sides of the river, locals have not been able to take much benefit due to lack of bridge,” Pramod Bhatta, a trader of Jhulaghat, India, said. “People of both the sides want the bridge to be constructed at the earliest.”
Chand added that the Uttarakhand government of India has been making attempts to build the bridge at the earliest. “But lack of coordination between the two governments is hindering the plan,” he added.
Roads were built in markets in both side of the river 18 years ago.
As hilly districts of Nepal like Baitadi, Darchula, Dadeldhura and Bajhang do not have proper health treatment facilities, locals have to carry patients with great difficulty across the river to the Indian town which has better health facilities.
Traders of Jhulaghat also say that lack of bridge has added their cost of doing business. In the lack of motorable road, traders have to use porters to take consignments across the border. “We need to pay porters Rs 7 per kg just to cross the road. This increases the cost of our products,” Mohan Bahadur Chhetri, a trader of Dehimadau, told Republica.
A survey for construction of motorable bridge over the Mahakali River at Jhulaghat was conducted in 1998. According to the survey, the bridge will be 105 meters long and 4.25 meters wide. The Detailed Project Report (DPR) prepared in 2006 estimated the cost of the bridge at Rs 60 million.
Hotel business hit hard
The number of tourists coming to different parts of the district has been falling for the past three years.
According to locals, lack of bridge over the Mahakali River has affected the movement of Indian nationals to different tourist areas of Baitadi districts.
Hotels built with investment worth millions of rupees have come into operation in the district in recent years. However, hotels like Samurai, Panchachuli View, Maalika Inn, and Hotel Api, among others, have not seen any increase in the tourist numbers
“We had opened hotels with the hope that the flow of tourists would increase after construction of the bridge,” said Janak Raj Joshi, promoter of Hotel Api. “But, there are few visitors since the bridge has not been constructed yet.”
Most of the hotels in the district have modern amenities like air conditioners, attached bathroom and conference hall. But tourists are not coming as expected, as they do not want to take the trouble of changing vehicles multiple times.
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