Postal Highway construction speeds up, bilateral talks on Wednesday
KATHMANDU, Oct 7: The first phase of the East-West postal highway to be constructed in parallel to the Mahendra Highway with the objective of promoting trade facilitation, easy transportation and regional trade has moved speedily ahead.
The first phase of the construction will cover 609 kilometers of the 1,444 kilometers of the postal highway from Mechi in the east to Mahakali in the west. The potal highway is being constructed with grant assistance of the Government of India.
The Bhairahawa-Lumbini section of the highway has been almost completed. All works of the 88.7 kilometer road under the Dhangadi section has been completed and preparations are on for blacktopping it, Director of the Postal Highway Project Mukti Gautam told RSS.
The project is expected to be completed at a cost of Rs. 50 billion, which includes the construction of 63 bridges on the way. It is estimated to take two years to be completed.
Meanwhile, arguing that the decision to blacktop the 609 kilometers of the highway with a width of only 3.75 meters was technically wrong, locals of Dhangadi and adjoining areas have demanded expansion of the width of the road to establish it as a highway.
However, Secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning, works and transport, Tulasi Prasad Sitoula said given the pressure of vehicles in the section it was right to blacktop only a width of 3.75 meters.
It can be expanded in the future considering the pressure of population and vehicles, he added.
Likewise, Indian ambassador to Nepal, Jayant Prasad said the Government of India wishes to support as much as possible the socio-economic development of Nepal. However, as the contract has already been awarded the blacktopping of a width of 3.75 meters cannot be expanded, he added.
However, the remaining 835 kilometers of the road to be built under the second phase would be expanded to two-lanes as per the request of the Government of Nepal. A concrete decision to this end would be reached in the talks to be held between senior officials of Nepal and India on coming Wednesday, he added.
He also expressed the confidence that the highway, which would prove a backbone for the economic development of Nepal, would help take Indo-Nepal relations to a new height.
An agreement to upgrade the postal road in use near the Indo-Nepal border, blacktop and upgrade it to a highway was signed in New Delhi by then Foreign Minister Sujata Koirala and Indian Minister for External Affairs, SM Krishna on January 15, 2010.
Meanwhile, the evaluation of the first phase of the construction and beginning of the second phase would be discussed at the Joint-secretary-level talks to be held in the capital on October 10. Following the talks, both sides would also make an onsite inspection of the project site in Biratnagar.
A team led by Joint-secretary at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, Akhilesh Mishra is arriving here on Tuesday for the Steering Committee meeting, according to Joint-secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, Hariom Srivastav.
Joint-secretary Srivastav shall lead the Nepali delegation comprising senior officials of the Finance, Foreign Affairs and Physical Planning and Works Ministries.
Apart from reviewing the progress, views shall also be exchanged on ways to resolve the challenges faced so far, added Joint-secretary Srivastav.