Govt decision puts Fast Track project in jeopardy: Experts
KATHMANDU, Sept 24: Experts and bureaucrats have warned that the government´s recent decision to make a common alignment for Kathmandu-Terai Fast Track and Kathmandu-Hetauda Tunnel Highway in the Khokana area might create problem in implementing the one of the highly prioritized projects.
Saroj Man Shrestha, former project chief of the fast track project said the decision to merge the alignment of the two different infrastructures, made jointly by National Planning Commission (NPC) and Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport Management (MoPPWTM) was a major setback for the implementation of the proposed expressway.
“These are completely two different projects having different nature and investors. Making common alignment for both the projects is not practical in any sense,” Shrestha told Republica on Sunday.
The government recently took the decision arguing that the proposed alignment would bring down the cost of land acquisition in Khokana area for the both project.
Kishore Nath Gongal, project chief of the fast track project, however, expressed ignorance about the government´s decision about the common alignment.
“I have no idea about the decision as I have not been formally informed about it. I only came to know about it from the media. Lately, few potential investors who have already bought expression of interest (EoI) to develop the Fast Track have also voiced concern over the decision,” said Gongal.
The proposed 76 km fast track will connect Kathmandu with central Tarai while 50-km Tunnel Highway will link Kathmandu with Hetauda.
After the government´s decision both the road projects will share common alignment of 15 kilometers in Khokana which is most expensive of the lands to be acquired for the implementation of those infrastructures.
Officials at the MoPPWTM also have expressed worry about the government´s decision as it might put the much-hyped fast track at risk.
“The decision by the concerned officials at the NPC and the ministry without studying the problems while sharing the project sites in 15 km long stretch given that both are going to be implemented under Built Operate Own and Transfer (BOOT) modality of Public Private Partnership,” said the source.
The government had handed over the Tunnel Highway project to the Nepal Purvadhar Bikas Company (NPBC) under the BOOT act in May to complete the project in four years.
Similarly, the government has called for Expression of Interest (EoI) from the investors for the fast track.
Meanwhile, Dipendra Bahadur Kshetry, vice-chairperson of the NPC also said common alignment for two mega projects would be cost effective in the long-term. “Though the concept of common alignment is cost effective, we need to work hard to ensure the effective implementation of this idea in these projects which are different in nature,” said.