KATHMANDU, Oct 9: The government has requested India to support the construction of bridges along 900-km link roads that will be developed in later phases of the 1500-km Tarai Roads Project.
Under the bilateral assistance agreement, the government had agreed to construct the bridges itself while India would construct the 1500 km road.
"We are constructing bridges on the first 600-km stretch of the Tarai road ourselves," said Hariom Srivastav, joint secretary at the Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport Management.
However, the ministry recently approached the Indian government to develop bridges as well on remaining 900-km stretch that will be developed in the second and the third phases.
Srivastava said such a request was made mainly to complete the project on time. "We have yet to carry out a survey to ascertain the number of bridges need to be constructed along the 900 km stretch. Survey will take time," he stated.
Besides, the ministry has assessed that the cost of constructing the bridges [on the 900 km section] will be very high and it will be difficult for the government to arrange funds from its own sources.
Tarai Road Project is the biggest project being developed under Indian assistance in recent years. The agreement was signed between the two countries in 2006. India has already allocated Rs 10 billion for the first phase construction work.
"Sadly, even after six years of the agreement, no substantial progress has been made in the project," Srivastav said.
As per the assistance agreement, Nepal needs to acquire land for the development and upgradation of link roads. However, officials said they are facing difficulties in land acquisition. “
"The pace of implementation of the first phase itself has remained slow because we have faced problems in land acquisition and in having environmental impact assessment report approved from the authorities concerned," Srivastava said.
Senior Nepali and Indian officials are also holding a bilateral meeting, reviewing the status and discuss future course of action of the project, on Wednesday. Akhilesh Mishra, joint secretary at the Indian Ministry of External Affairs is leading the Indian delegation.
The Nepali side is hopeful that the Indian side will respond positively to their request for bridges construction.