Landslide blocks Panchthar-Terathum road section of Mid Hill Lokmarga Highway in this recent picture. Photos: Giriraj Baskota/Republica
PANCHTHAR, Aug 3: Pachthar -Tehrathum road expansion project that is supposed to link road network between Chiwabhanjyang VDC, Chyangthampu in East Panchthar district to Baitadi district has been witnessing slow progress since its inception. Although the deadline for the project completion is to 2075, progress so far does not make it a promising one.
Contractors claim that the main reason for the snail pace progress is alluded to landslide-prone Panchthar -Tehrathum hill section. However, locals of Athrai VDC feel that the road construction is facing landslides because of its untimely construction. Oyam and Phalaicha section of the road that falls between Ganesh Chowk, Chyangthapu VDC has obstructed due to landslides. Incessant rainfall during the past few days has grounded the transportation across the road. Locals said that the expansion was done only after the monsoon started and was left incomplete after landslides and boggy road started affecting the construction. Prakash Dhungel, a local, said that it has almost been a week since there has been no vehicular movement along the road affecting daily life.
Similarly, mud deposited on the bridge connecting Tehrathum and Phidim has made it difficult for the people and vehicles to cross the bridge.
Locals complained that concerned authorities have not responded to their repeated requests for clearing it and easing vehicular movement. There has been no vehicular movement between Athrai VDC of Tehrathum and its district headquarters, Myaglung. Authorities at Lok Marga, the office which monitors the construction project, said that efforts to ease transportation by removing debris on the road have been badly affected by the monsoon rain.
Locals complained that the construction of the road has been very sluggish along the Chyanthapu - Chiwabhanjyang road section. As per initial agreement, the construction of the road was supposed to end three years ago. But even after three years, the road is now where near completion.
Sluggish construction work along the road has been affecting transportation through out the year.
Constructions of bridges over the Phalam and Oyam rivers have also been facing similar delays. Both bridges were also supposed to complete three years ago. But still the bridges have not been completed. Sukra Raj Rai, a teacher at a local school, said that locals have been forced to risk their lives while crossing the river in lack of bridges over rivers.
A tripper and excavator work along the Oyam and Phalaicha road section of the Mid Hill Lokmarga Highway in Panchthar in this recent picture.
Engineer for the project, Mohan Kayastha, said that they had received permission to gravel 28 km of the Tharpu road but it has not been implemented as earlier phase of the project is yet to complete. Locals expressed dissatisfaction towards the contractor stating that it has not been able to blacktop 10 km road joining Tharpu to Ganesh chowk and the 4km Jorsal -Majhitaar road section. Kayastha informed that of the 10km road, six km road has already been blacktopped.
Chiwa Bhanjyang, the eastern departure point of Mid Hill Lokmarga Highway in Panchthar.
The condition is similar in Tehrathum district. Almost all the road contracts have been progressing sluggishly. It has been a year since the contract to blacktop the 24 km road from Tamor to Sakranti was given, but the project has not even started. Tej Man Kandangba, former vice president at Tehrathum District Development Committee (DDC) said that the construction process of the Lokmarga has been really slow. “They have started the construction very recently and this is very late.”
Along with the road, construction of bridges over Koya and Khorang Rivers has not started yet. The contract was awarded last year.
Suresh Tumbahamphey, engineer for the Jorsal to Tehrathum road section project informed that of the three construction packages that aims at building 62 km road, only one package has been completed. All the three packages were supposed to complete last year. Elaborating on the reason for such delays, Tumbahamphey also pointed to monsoon rain.