Officials of different government agencies during site visit. Photo: Sarita Shrestha/Republica
DHADING, March 15: Residents of two local units of Dhading district are at odds over an access road being built by a cement factory.
Huaxin Cement Narayani Pvt Ltd -- a joint venture between investors of Nepal and China -- is building an access road to its plant site located in Talti of Ward-2, Benighat Rorang Rural Municipality, in Dhading.
Locals of Gajuri Rural Municipality have stopped construction work after the cement company decided to build a new access road to its plant site instead of upgrading an existing road that starts from Malekhu. Locals of Malekhu are arguing that the new road will damage farm land and cause environmental impacts as construction will affect natural flow of rivers.
However, locals of Benighat Rorang Rural Municipality are supporting the cement company by providing their land for road construction. They are arguing that locals of Gajuri Rural Municipality are protesting road construction simply because they will get fewer economic benefits.
Arjun Silwal, a resident of Gajuri Rural Municipality, said: “The cement company is encroaching upon Malekhu River to build a new road to its project site. Natural flow of Jasmankhola River has been affected due to construction works and the river is eroding farmland.” He also accused the company of starting construction works without studying its impacts. “We know cement industry will bring socio-economic benefits. But they (cement factory) should have discussed the possible environment impacts with the affected locals,” he added.
Locals of Gajuri Rural Municipality have also demanded compensation for land damaged due to construction of access road.
However, locals of Benighat Rorang Rural Municipality say they are happy to provide their land for development of their area. “They are opposing construction of new access road as they will no longer be able to collect vehicle tax based on frequency of movement of vehicles once the new road comes into operation,” Sudarshan Silwal, a resident of Benighat Rorang Rural Municipality, said.
Huaxin Cement Narayani Pvt Ltd is a joint venture between China’s Huaxin Cement Company and Narayani Cement Company of Nepal. The company is bringing foreign direct investment of US$ 140 million to build a cement plant having capacity of 3,000 tons daily.
Of the 12-kilometer access road to the plant site, five kilometers have already been built. However, the company has faced hurdles in remaining seven-kilometer section that starts from the boundary of Gajuri and Benighat Rorang municipalities.
To settle the ongoing dispute between the two local units, District Coordination Committee Chief Jagannath Nepal, Chief District Officer Bhagirath Pandey, Superintendent of Police Raj Kumar Baidwar and representatives of the two local units made a site visit on Thursday. However, they have not been able to forge consensus till Republica went to press.