India commits to complete Tarai roads project on time
KATHMANDU, Oct 11: India has expressed commitment to push the contractors appointed to construct 606-km Tarai link roads to speed up the works so that the project, which is the biggest India funded project in recent years, could be implemented on time.
Going by the understanding, about half a dozen contractors selected by the Indian government to implement the project are supposed to complete the construction works of the first phase within 30 months of signing the contract. The contract was signed last year.
“About 12 months have already passed since the contractors were appointment. Sadly, only 7 percent of the works have been completed so far,” the Indian delegation had apprised the Nepali team during the bilateral review meeting on the project on Wednesday.
During the talks, the Indian delegation led by Akhilesh Mishra, joint secretary at its Ministry of External Affairs (MoEA), had admitted that the project was delayed because the contractors, who bid lowest to win the contract, couldn´t find workforce in Nepal at costs they quoted for the works.
“No wonder, in the absence of workers, they failed to carry out their jobs. Hence, they are dilly-dallying the matter now,” an official of Ministry of Physical Planning, Works and Transport management (MoPPWTM) present at the meeting quoted the Indian officials as saying in the review meeting.
Following such sincere confession by the Indian side, the Nepali talks team led by Hari Om Srivastav, joint secretary at the MoPPWTM, had requested it to speed up the project implementation henceforth.
“The Indian side has committed to speed up the construction works and complete the project on time -- that is within the next 18 months,” Tulasi Sitaula, secretary at the MoPPWTM, told Republica.
Among others, the Indian team said it would closely monitor the work of the contractors in the field, and push it, whenever necessary, for speedy works.
During the meeting, the Nepali side had also acknowledged weaknesses on its parts, like difficulties faced by it in acquiring land. “We have informed the Indian team that we will complete the land acquisition soon,” Sitaula added.
For the purpose, the Nepali side said it would soon approach the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation (MoFSC) for acquiring the forest land -- the only remaining portion under acquisition. “We will work closely with the MoFSC to make that happen soon,” said Sitaula.
The talk team from India and Nepal are scheduled to visit the site on Thursday to observe the development of the project.
Nepal and India had signed an assistance agreement to develop and upgrade 1500-km link roads in Tarai districts in June 2006. Going by the agreement, the Nepali government needs to acquire the land and hand it over to the contractor, who would then construct the double lane roads.
For the construction of the 606-km link roads, which is being developed under the first phase, India has already allocated fund of Rs 10 billion.