Madhav Aryal, The Kathmandu Post, 8 April 2018
Construction of North-South Kaligandaki Corridor is moving ahead swiftly, raising prospects of improvement in living standard of people living along the 435km highway.
The corridor is a strategic project for Nepal as it links Chinese border in the north via Korala with Indian border in the south via Bhairahawa. Completion of the project, which passes through Nawalparasi, Palpa, Tanahu, Syangja, Gulmi, Baglung, Parbat and Myagdi districts, will not only facilitate movement of people from Nepal, India and China, but cargo trucks as well.
Personnel of Nepal Army are currently building sections of the corridor in Baglung and Gulmi districts. The corridor project office is working on sections of the highway in Palpa and Nawalparasi districts, while division road office is building sections of the corridor in Myagdi and Mustang districts.
“If things go according to plan, entire work related to opening of the corridor’s track will be completed within mid-July,” said Narayan Datta Bhandari, chief engineer of the project office at Bartung. After completion of this work, vehicles can transport passengers and goods on the section of the corridor stretching from Gaidakot to Korala.
In districts, such as Nawalparasi and Gulmi, where tracks have been opened, work related to widening of the roadway is taking place. Track is also being widened in 130km segment between Gaidakot and Pipal Danda, while Baglung project division office is upgrading 190km section of the corridor from Baglung to Mustang.
Also, 8km segment between Ridi and Rudrabeni of Gulmi district has been blacktopped. And Nepal Army personnel are conducting repair works, expanding the road or building retention walls on segment stretching from Maldhunga of Baglung district to Palung Khola and Harmi Chaur of Gulmi district. The North-South Kaligandaki Corridor extends from Gaidakot of Nawalparasi district to Korala in Upper Mustang. The construction of the corridor began in fiscal year 2008-09. The project, which is being built at a cost of Rs10 billion, should have been completed in 2013-14. However, the project could not meet its completion deadline due to various reasons. New project completion deadline has now been set for fiscal year 2020-21.
The construction of the highway has already started trickling economic benefits, as villages and towns are transforming into market centres due to access to road network.
“Now, we can buy commodities ranging from salt to gold in our own town,” said Krishna Kumar Aryal, a farmer of Rampur Municipality in Palpa district. “The road has brought about drastic changes.”
People like Aryal are hopeful about improvement in living standard of people
residing along the corridor, as they now have access to marketplaces from Nawalparasi in the plains to Mustang in the hills.
“This prospect of better future has stopped outmigration and is encouraging those employed abroad to return home,” said Krishna Adhikari, a resident of Gejha, a town in Rampur Municipality of Palpa district. Many returnee migrant workers, according to Adhikari, are now engaged in vegetable farming and livestock business.