KATHMANDU, Oct 19: Locals of Chandragiri Municipality staged a peaceful protest in the capital on Wednesday, venting their ire against the snail-paced construction of the Kalanki-Nagdhunga road section that has exposed them to prolonged dust pollution.
With the aim of drawing the attention of the government authorities concerned, around 300 locals gathered on Balkhu Bridge at around 7:30 am and marched towards Kalanki. Hundreds of passengers and drivers participated in the protest which was organized at the behest of the Rastriya Swabalamban Samaj (RSS), Thankot, and locals of Tinthana, ward no. 15 of Chandragiri Municipality.
Kalanki which is one of the busiest junctions in Kathmandu has also become the most polluted place in the country. Around 300,000 to 500,000 people travel through this junction every day. The sluggish construction of the first underpass road of the country and pipe laying project of Melamchi has become a nightmare for the people here.
Though the project started more than three years ago, there are no signs that it could be completed anytime soon. The project has been stalled time and again citing various issues between the contractors and the locals. According to Jamuna Puri, chairperson of RSS, Thankot, though some locals did not cooperate with the road expansion in the beginning, those issues have been solved now but still the project is going nowhere. The project period has been extended by 18 months and that has irked the locals. “I don't know for how long we will have to bear this misery but we are dying to breathe fresh air,” Puri said, adding, “It's hard to find people in the area who have not faced health problems related to lungs, ear and eyes due to the pollution caused by the road construction.”
Protesters holding placards chanted slogans accusing the government of neglecting the health and safety of its citizens. There are hundreds of deadly potholes on the road section. “If the government wants, it can complete this project within months because it's possible. So, it should not delay the project further and save people from dying,” said Puri.
This is not the first time when locals resorted to such protests but still the authorities concerned have paid no heed to their miseries. Various social organizations such as RSS have promised to keep staging such protests until their voices are heard.