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Tarai strikes bring big infra projects to a halt

- JANAK NEPAL, NEPALGUNJ

Sep 11, 2015- Prolonged strikes in the Tarai region have adversely affected the progress of large infrastructure projects. The construction work of most national pride projects has been brought to a complete halt by continuous strikes that have crippled the transportation of materials and equipment.  

The Sikta Irrigation Project is one of the national pride projects that has been hit hard by the protests in the southern plains. The construction of the project’s main tunnel has come to a full stop. Similarly, the construction of a four-lane road connecting Ranjha-Nepalgunj-Jamunah and the road’s drainage system has ground to a halt.
Bishnu Prasad Bhusal, executive officer of Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan City, said the construction work at the project had been suspended for the last one month. According to him, they are planning to hold a discussion with the agitating political parties not to obstruct development projects.
Most of the project’s construction works have been affected mainly due to a short supply of construction materials. Besides, the strike organizers have obstructed the operation of heavy equipment.
Yuva Raj Chhetri, director of Kalika Construction, one of the contractors involved in the project, said they had been unable to mobilize workers at the construction site. “We are unable to complete the projects that were targeted to be completed by this monsoon,” he said.
Despite some efforts to resume the development project, contractors have also been harassed by the demonstrators. They have vandalized three trucks loaded with construction materials in Hawaldarpur.
“Although the political leaders are positive about allowing the construction work to continue, we are not in a position to take risks as the leaders declined to provide assurances regarding their cadres,” Chhetri said.
The main tunnel of the Sikta Irrigation Project was devastated by last year’s flood. Maintenance works on the tunnel have been stopped completely.
Saroj Pandit, chief of the irrigation project, said that the protests had also delayed the tendering and surveying work. He added that the project would not meet its annual construction target if the strike continued.
Kalika Construction has been assigned to construct a 10-km-long tunnel for the irrigation project. The government has allocated Rs1.69 billion for the project’s maintenance for this fiscal year.
Likewise, the construction of the Kohalpur-Jamunah four-lane road funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) was scheduled to be completed by the end of the last fiscal year. Similarly, the construction of the Kohalpur-Ranjha segment, which was supposed to be completed 10 months ago, has been affected.
Of the two road segments, Pappu Construction has been awarded the contract for the construction of a 10.5-km section from Jamunah (Rupaidiya) to Chauraha. The contractor has asked the concerned authorities to extend the deadline to complete the project by four months.
Girish Chand, engineer at the ADB, said that they had been requesting the agitating groups not to obstruct development works. The $75.9 million road project under the Sub-Regional Transport Enhancement Project was approved by the ADB on October 27, 2010.  
The project’s objective is to expand connectivity with remote areas and enhance the capacity of major international trade corridors to develop local economies besides integrate them more effectively with their primary markets in India and further to third countries.

Published: 11-09-2015 09:56

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