An excavator demolishes a house on the side of the Birgunj-Patlaiya road in this recent picture. Upendra Yadav/Republica
BARA, Dec 24: In what could be seen as a rare attitude, most owners of houses and huts constructed illegally on the sides of Birgunj-Patlaiya road are pulling those structures on their own. Most of these owners are cooperating with the authorities while sharing that they are excited that the road is being upgraded to a six-lane highway.
“They understand that the wider road is going to massively benefit everyone and that they will be even in the frontline of the beneficiaries. As they are being very cooperative, it has helped us speed up the work,” said Rabindra Lal Das, chief of the road-widening project.
He said that the project is presently being effective in Patlaiya, Simara, Jitpur and Nitanpur areas, among others. “If locals had not been so helpful, it would be really very difficult for us to make progress,” he added.
Das’s remark makes serious sense at a time when dozens of road expansion projects across the country have been in a limbo due to non-cooperation from locals. For instance, the Kalanki-Naagdhunga road section in Kathmandu valley has been obstructed citing compensation issues by locals. Reports from other districts also reflect a similar situation.
“It is really noteworthy that the locals here have been very wise. They have said that they are ready to go in understanding with the authority in terms of compensation if anyone deserves it,” he said. “In other parts of the country, people do not appear so cooperative. They do not step back, until you use force,” Das further said.
Pushkar Rayamajhi, a local of Birgunj market area said that the widening of the road was actually a long-held demand of the people. “Since it is materializing now, we are more than happy. Everyone has removed their structures without creating a problem,” he said. “The road department had issued a list of the structures that needed to be removed. Owners implemented it,” he added.
When completed the present two-lane will widen by 25 meters on both sides, Das said. “It’s a huge project as the existing two-lane road will be upgraded to six-lane. The widening has also claimed houses of many locals,” he said. The project is providing machinery and technical support to house owners for demolishing their houses.
“Now we aim to complete the road project within two years. The support of the locals has boosted the confidence of the contractors,” he said. “It has also given us a moral pressure to expedite the work,” he added.
As part of the project, around 26 kilometers of the road will be upgraded at an estimated cost of over Rs 3.12 billion, Das informed.
Birgunj is the main entry point of trade with India and considered a crucial highway.