May 10, 2019 08:17 AM NPT
By: SHYAM RAI
Locals and shopowners along the Bauddha-Jorpati road stage protest against the government on Thursday demanding that the road section, which has been left incomplete for years, be blacktopped immediately. Saying that the dust pollution due to the incomplete work has become unbearable, they burnt tires and blocked the road section for several hours on Thursday and clashed with police. Rajib Khatri/Republica
KATHMANDU, May 10: Bauddha area in the capital turned into a battleground Thursday after police baton-charged the agitating locals who had taken to the streets demanding that the Chabahil-Bauddha-Sankhu road expansion work be completed without any delay.
The locals have been suffering from dirt and pollution as the road construction work remains incomplete for the last four years. Frustrated by the dirt and pollution, the locals took to the street. But the police arbitrarily charged batons on the protesters.
At least eight locals and four police personnel were seriously injured in the clash.
A group of locals united under the banner of Chuchchepati-Baudhha-Jorpati Struggle Committee took to the streets to protest against the delay in completing the road expansion project. “We have already spent five years in dirt. Still, there is no sign of completing the road construction any time soon,” said Kedar Katwal, vice-president of the committee, adding “Our protest will continue until this road is blacktopped.”
No sooner had the protesters obstructed the road section demanding the road construction project be completed at the earliest, than the police started baton-charging them. “Clashes erupted after they [protesters] burned tires and confronted the police personnel,” said DSP Narendara Chand of Bauddha Police Circle.
The locals blame negligence by the contractor for the protracted delay in completing the work. They say contractors are enjoying impunity as the project implementing government offices and elected representatives have turned a blind eye to delays in construction work.
The road section from Tusal to Jorpati is a nightmare for commuters and locals even in the daytime because of dirt and pollution.
Business people of Bauddha and locals have warned of continuing the protest until the road is blacktopped. “The road construction work has been delayed as the government officials are bribed and there is visible collusion between government agencies and contractors,” alleged entrepreneur Naresh Katawal, adding, “Consequently, we are suffering from dirt and pollution for years. It’s utter negligence to the peoples’ health.”
Following the protest, an agreement has been reached among the protesters, contractors and Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project to complete the work without any delay. Raj Kumar Adhikari, another businessman from Bauddha, warned they will resume the protests if the agreement is not implemented.
Asked why the road construction is so sluggish, Bishwa Bijaya Lal Shrestha blamed the pipe-laying work. “When we have to construct a good road, pipes should be laid down properly. The task of pipe-laying has delayed the overall road construction process,” said Shrestha.
The road widening work of the 12-kilometer Chabahil-Sankhu road section started in 2015.