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Opening date for Integrated Check Post pushed back

- LILA BALLAV GHIMIRE, BIRATNAGAR

Mar 21, 2016-

The long delayed construction of the Integrated Check Post (ICP) on the Nepal side of the Biratnagar-Jogbani border was held up further by the Tarai unrest and Indian embargo, with officials saying that it will be four more years before it comes into operation.

Work on the ICP which will contain immigration, customs, border security and quarantine facilities started six years ago. The check post which straddles the Nepal-India border will also house a currency exchange counter, internet service and cafeteria.

Presently, 70 percent of the construction work on the Indian side has been completed while on the Nepal side, the building contract is yet to be awarded, according a consultant of the project.

Nepal and India signed an accord in 2005 to build ICPs straddling the border at Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bhairahawa and Nepalgunj. Under the agreement, there will be matching complexes on both sides of the border. The Indian government had pledged to build the ICPs on the Nepal side too, and the government just had to provide the required land.

The Indian side has claimed that all the work on the Indian side will be completed within six months, but the Indian authorities have not yet invited tenders for the Nepali portion. When bids were invited for the first time, there was only one taker; and the tender offer was scrapped for failing to get the minimum three bids.

Subsequently, Madhes-based parties went on the warpath crippling the Tarai, and India imposed a blockade which led to the tender process coming to a complete halt.

“Tenders have been invited again after the first offer was cancelled due to low participation by bidders,” said Atul Prakash, consultant to the ICP Project, Jogbani.

“Work at the project will begin soon. The deadline for submitting tenders will expire on March 28. India will be spending Rs1.1 billion for the construction of the infrastructure on the Nepal side. We have issued a re-invitation for tenders for Rs1.1 billion, and an agreement will be signed with the successful bidder to complete the project within two and a half years,” said Prakash.

On the Indian side, a police post, road, yard, lab and compound wall, among other infrastructure, have been completed. “We are at the final stages of the project on the Indian side,” Prakash said. “The work will be completed within five months.”

Meanwhile, land acquisition and the construction of a security base camp and fencing have been completed on the Nepal side. However, the land has not been handed over to the Indian side formally to construct the infrastructure.

The project faced land acquisition related problems on the Nepal side for a long time. Presently, 129 bighas of land have been acquired and compensation payments have been distributed to the owners.

“The delay in the construction work has been a big loss for the country,” said Shiva Shankar Agrawal, president of the Industry Association, Morang. “Due to the delay, traders have been facing hassles during customs clearance.” Traders will be able to save on transportation costs, time and bank interest once the ICP is built, he added.

Published: 21-03-2016 08:43

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