PM: Works for construction of Fast Track to begin in a month

  • ‘Groundwork being prepared to implement second int’l airport project’
- LAXMI SAH, BARA
PM’s comment comes at a time when a 7-member panel formed under NPC vice chairman is set to submit a report on implementation modality of the 76-km expressway

Feb 12, 2017-Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said works for construction of much-hyped and much-awaited Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track would begin within a month.

His comment comes at a time when a seven-member committee formed under National Planning Commission Vice Chairman Min Bahadur Shrestha is all set to submit a report on implementation modality of the 76-km expressway, which is expected to reduce travel time from the country’s capital to Nijgad in the south to less than an hour.

“The committee will submit a report within a week,” the PM said. “The report will clarify project’s implementation modality and sources from where funds could be mobilised to build the expressway. So, within a month formal works for construction of the fast track would begin.” 

The PM made the remark while addressing a pressure group, which has been organising a hunger strike at the entry point of the expressway in Nijgad. The pressure group has been organising various programmes since November to exert pressure on the concerned authorities to expedite construction of the fast track and second international airport in Nijgad.

“A committee formed under chief district officer has already started conducting studies on human settlement management at the site where the second international airport will be built. It is also carrying out studies on compensation that needs to be extended to families that should be relocated from the site,” the PM said. “Soon, the project’s impact on environment, including flora, fauna and humans, will also be assessed.”

Although a bevy of foreign investors has expressed interest to build the airport, the government has been consistently saying it is capable of building the project on its own. In this regard, the government, in December, said it would reimburse a Korean firm that prepared the detailed feasibility study report of the proposed airport in Nijgadh. 

The Korean company had also expressed interest to build the project. But the government has already asked the company to submit paperwork and claim payment. 

This is the same with Kathmandu-Tarai Fast Track.

In December, the government terminated all agreements with an Indian consortium that was shortlisted as the potential builder of the expressway and decided to build it on its own. 

In this case as well, the government is considering on acquiring the detailed project report (DPR) from the Indian consortium to expedite construction of the expressway, as it would take another one to two years if it decides to prepare the DPR on its own.“Some of the members of the committee formed under Shrestha have already held informal talks with representatives of the Indian consortium to purchase the report,” said a reliable source who has knowledge of the matter. “But nothing has been finalised yet.”

Earlier, the consortium had said it had spent around IRs350 million (Rs560 million) to prepare the report.

“The committee will request the government to acquire the report, if the Indian consortium demands a reasonable sum,” the source said. “If the consortium does not inflate the price and the government agrees to the proposal to acquire the report, procurement process can begin in no time.”

The proposed four-lane expressway, with shoulders, is expected to have 100 bridges and 1.2-km tunnel. The Indian consortium had put the cost of building the project at $1,297 million, including $1,117 million for construction and $180 million for non-construction purposes that factor in price escalation during the construction period and losses triggered by devaluation of Nepali currency.

On the other hand, the Korean firm has estimated a cost of Rs65 billion for construction of the first phase of the second international airport, Rs7.78 billion for the second phase of construction and Rs8.79 billion for the third phase.

Although the government has been touting about building these two projects for years, tangible results are yet to be seen. This has prompted locals to organise various protests to exert pressure on the government.

“I understand the feelings of those taking part in the hunger strike. I urge the protesters to transform the protest into vigilance campaign, as these projects would begin soon,” PM Dahal said. (With inputs from Kathmandu correspondent)

Published: 12-02-2017 09:38

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