Nepali Congress cadres planted rice saplings on the road to protest the inordinate delay in upgradation of the Lamosandhu-Giri road in Dolakha today.
With the view to upgrading a stretch of the Araniko Highway from Sindhupalchowk’s Khadichaur to Mude and Dolakha’s Charikot and Jiri to a two-lane road, the Road Division Office had selected contractors two years ago.
“As the inordinate delay in the road project has caused a great difficulty to commuters along this route, we had to resort to this kind of protest to draw the government’s attention to our problems,” said Tarun Dal Dolakha chairperson Dawasange Sherpa.
He was speaking at a symbolic protest programme organised on the occasion of National Paddy Day. Cadres of Nepali Congress’s sister wings Tarun Dal and Nepal Students Union participated in the protest. Sherpa further threatened to launch stern protests if the road upgradation work did not pick pace.
While three companies, including an Indian company, were jointly entrusted with upgrading the 25 km stretch from Khadi Chaur to Mude at an estimated cost of Rs 390 million, Sakil Haidar, an Indian company, together with Nepali companies Shankar Mali and Sunaula Khimti, had been awarded the contract for upgradation of the remaining 30 km road from Mude to Charikot at an estimated cost of Rs 700 million. But the road upgradation work has been stalled for quite a long time now.
The project is said to be stalled ever since the government blocked the bank accounts and transactions of one of the contractors. Sunaula Khimti’s owner Bhimsen Bhandari’s bank accounts and transactions have been blocked in connection with a tax evasion case. The companies have so far only constructed a few structures including prop walls and ditches.
Two weeks ago, the Sindhupalchowk administration had arrested Bhandari at the order of the home ministry. “We’ve talked to contractors. They have pledged to complete the work by April next year,” said project chief Kedar Nepal.