Bus park at Pokhara which is set to be upgraded soon. Photo: Santosh Pokharel/Republica
POKHARA, Dec 26: Pokhara’s old bus park located near Rastra Bank Chowk is being upgraded to attract tourists. The government will soon begin upgrading the ‘tourist bus park’, according to Tourism Minister Rabindra Adhikari. The Department of Tourism under the ministry took the initiative to upgrade the bus park that spreads across 18 ropanis of land. The land belongs to Pokhara Valley Town Development Committee and was gathering dust and garbage since long.
“Tourism entrepreneurs had been demanding the authorities to upgrade the bus park since a long time. Finally, their demand has materialized,” said Adhikari. “Once this bus park gets completed, it will greatly contribute to tourism here,” he added. According to Minister Adhikari, the government is set to announce a tender notice this week, finalize it and the project will begin soon. “The work will start soon and the deadline for completion has been set for two years. We have already fixed the budget,” he said.
The government has allocated Rs 150 million for the project in the current fiscal year. But ‘since that is not going to be enough’, more budget will be allocated later as per the need.
“The bus park will be constructed in such a way that it will beautify Pokhara. We are conscious of the aesthetic value as well,” Adhikari stated. He added that the total budget is estimated to be around Rs 600 million.
The 18-ropani of land was being used as a bus park, but it was very poorly managed. People would throw plastic bags and dirt in broad daylight.
“But the situation will change now. We hope it is going to be very well managed since the government has taken keen interest,” said Danduraj Ghimire, director general of the tourism department. “During the rainy days, the entire bus park wears an ugly look. Upgrading it was a very long due.”
Stating that such a big area was not properly utilized, tourism entrepreneurs in Pokhara had long been demanding that a proper bus park be constructed there. Locals had also voiced for this. Tourists would also not feel good to use the bus park. But they had no choice.
“It was a shame. In rainy days, anyone travelling through the bus park would not be spared from the dirt and mud. Tourists had to travel that way, with mud on their pants and shirts while using this bus park,” stated a local. He added that a little budget could do the job and yet the government always remained apathetic about it.
According to Ghimire, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been prepared and the construction works be expedited once the tender bid is finalized.
“We have already prepared the DPR. The work will be carried out speedily once the tender is finalized and contractor selected,” he said.
The DPR has been prepared by the Department of Tourism itself.
The land had courted controversy five years ago. Tourism entrepreneurs wanted to bring it under their domain and operate a bus park while the Pokhara Valley Town Development Committee was not ready to take its hands off the matter. Amid tussle, the committee later gave it on lease for 10 years to Pokhara Center Leasing which operated a bus park here.
Pokhara Leasing Center pays Rs 65,000 per month to the committee. According to the committee members, though constructing a new bus park here is a good decision there has been a lack of communication.
“We have not been formally informed about it,” said Prem Prasad Dhakal, administration chief of the committee. “Neither the lease period has come to an end,” he added.
The government was set to merge the committee with the local level government. But this has not been settled properly either. “Earlier, it was not a metropolis. Now, it is a metropolis, so there has been some confusion over merging of some entities,” said Dhakal. “But we want a clear way out. We hope the tourism ministry will look into this matter.”
Shesh Narayan Poudel, administration chief of Pokhara Metropolis, stated that the tourism ministry should take steps to claim its authority over the land. “The land has been given to a private company. That needs to be fixed for the sake of development. The tourism ministry has been urged to solve it and they are positive about it,” Poudel said.
After the metropolis sent letter regarding the issue, the ministry has been intervening through its department. Meanwhile, Chiranjeevi Khanal, chairperson of Pokhara Tourism Committee stated that a tourist bus park in Pokhara is very essential. “Now, we are very much hopeful. The minister has taken interest and the department is taking due steps,” he said.
Currently, it is a parking zone on a daily basis to around 60 big tourist buses.