August 4, 2021 01:23 PM NPT
KATHMANDu, August 4: With the formation of a new government, the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to study the detailed feasibility of the Kathmandu-Raxaul Railway has been stopped. The signing of the MoU has been postponed due to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba’s inability to appoint a new Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport.
Earlier, a meeting of the previous council of ministers held on March 9 had approved the MoU between the governments of Nepal and India to move ahead with the construction of the Kathmandu-Raxaul Broad Gauge Railway. The meeting had decided to authorize the director general of the ministry to sign the MoU of the railway.
According to Deepak Bhattarai, director general of the railway, the MoU could not be signed as there was no line minister to sign it in the first place. “We hope to see a minister being appointed to the post in the upcoming days,” Bhattarai said. He said that the necessary preparations are being made by the department.
In addition, the erstwhile government had allocated Rs 8.92 billion for the construction of railways, metro and mono railwalway development projects in the last fiscal year. So far, Rs 3.75 billion has been spent on the project.
A study of the project has shown that the average distance of the Kathmandu-Raxaul railway is 136 kilometers. The railway track will start from Birgunj and pass through Jitpur, the proposed Nijgadh International Airport, Chandika bridge, Sisnekhola and end at Chobhar.
The Department of Railways has estimated a time of one and a half years to conduct a detailed study of the railway section as there are many hills and rivers along the section. According to the department, 42 kilometers of tunnel and 40 to 45 large bridges need to be constructed along the railway section. The train route from India currently ends at Birgunj.
Furthermore, the Indian government has announced to bear the DPR cost of the Kathmandu-Raxaul Railway. According to the railway department, the cost of preparing the DPR of the railway is estimated to be Rs 700 million.
China interested in building railway
The government of Nepal has been requesting the Chinese government for a detailed study of the Kerung-Rasuwa-Kathmandu railway. However, the DRP study of the railway section has been halted due to the outbreak of COVID-19.
According to Director General Bhattarai, the railway will be 72 kilometers long. Also, experts say that tunnels will also have to be constructed for the railway project.
In the current fiscal year, a budget has been allocated for the study of railways at more than a dozen places. The pre-study of six railways has already been done. Also, the government has announced to prepare the DPR of Raxaul-Kathmandu and Kerung-Kathmandu-Pokhara railway with the budget of the next fiscal year. The government has allocated Rs 10.3 billion for railway construction, DPR and study of the project.