Court verdict on Nagdhunga-Kalanki road expansion has knock-on effect on other projects
- Locals who were ready to give up land for road expansion now seek compensation in line with the court order
Apr 16, 2019-
A one-and-a-half-year-old Supreme Court verdict in relation to the Nagdhunga-Kalanki road expansion has affected a number of road projects in the Valley.
The top court on September 18, 2017 made it mandatory for the government to compensate landowners before acquiring land for expanding the 9-km Nagdhunga-Kalanki road.
After the verdict, the government in July last year decided to expand the Nagdhunga-Kalanki road and the Chabahil-Sankhu road “in whatever space was available” without acquiring land from the public.
Locals whose land and houses would be acquired by the government for road expansion were obstructing works in both road sections. They also moved the Supreme Court, demanding a halt to expansion works.
When the Department of Roads started expansion “in the available space” in these road sections, it had expected that locals would not obstruct the works.
But things failed to move ahead as expected along the 12.5km Chabahil-Sankhu road section, as it was now the turn of the locals, who had earlier given up their land for road expansion, to obstruct the construction works.
“Locals who had given up their land for road expansion in the past are now obstructing works in a number of areas including Hariyalinagar, Khulaltar, Dakshin Dhoka and Salambutar among other locations along the Chabahil-Sankhu road,” said Bishow Bijayalal Shrestha, spokesperson for the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project.
They appear to feel injustice because some people residing along the same road are supposed to get compensation after the Supreme Court order as they had given up their property without any compensation, according to project officials. “Those whose plots are along the road section now want compensation in line with the court order,” an official said.
There are some locals who have now become even more protective about their land after the court order, officials said.
For example, locals at Salambutar, near Sankhu, removed nine pipes laid for drainage, claiming that the areas where pipes were laid belonged to private owners. As it was the natural outlet for rainwater, the project had laid the drainage pipes there.
According to officials, lack of uniformity at different locations has affected the beauty of the road as well. The project has been forced to lay drainage pipes on the road itself instead of on the edge, particularly along around a 300-metre road section from Bauddha to Jorpati.
But while doing so, old drainage and water supply pipes have been broken, creating difficulties in road expansion, according Keshav Kumar Sharma, director general at the Department of Roads.
He, however, said the government aimed to complete this road project within this fiscal year, except along the 300-metre section from Bauddha to Jorpati where old the water supply and drainage system needs to be fixed.
Currently, average physical progress along the road section is around 50 percent, according to project officials.
But they say completing the project would be challenging until new obstructions are removed. Currently, the task of expanding this road has been given to five different contractors.
Ever since four contractors were mobilised in September 2015 for the expansion, locals have been obstructing the works time and again.
As many as 111 locals from the Jorpati-Sankhu section had filed three separate writs at the Supreme Court against the expansion works and the court had issued an interim order in all three petitions, halting the expansion works.
The court order regarding the case of Nagdhunga-Kalanki road also has affected works along the Chapagaun-Lele as well as Nakkhu-Bhainsepati sections.
After the ruling, locals have been obstructing the works demanding compensation along the Chapagaun-Lele road, while obstruction along the Nakkhu-Bhaisepati road has lasted longer, according to Rajendra Poudel, a project engineer at the WorldWide Construction Company, one of the joint venture partners involved in constructing these roads.
These roads were supposed to be expanded to make them 22 metre wide.
“We are currently working where the land belongs to the government,” Poudel said.
As many as 30 writs were filed at the Supreme Court against the expansion of different roads in Kathmandu Valley, according to the Kathmandu Valley Road Expansion Project.
Of them, the court has issued interim orders in response to 10 petitions, halting the expansion works.
The court had issued a verdict only in the case of the Nagdhunga-Kalanki road.
Although the government had filed an application at the Supreme Court seeking a review of its verdict, it quashed the appeal in March this year.
But officials said that the court verdict would be applicable in all the projects, which would make road expansion even more difficult.
Bhaikaji Tiwari, development commissioner at the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, which oversees the entire road expansion works in the Valley, said they have stopped the road expansion plan after the court verdict.
“The government cannot pay compensation as demanded by the locals in Kathmandu Valley,” he said
Published: 16-04-2019 07:02