The Kathmandu Post, Shankar Acharya, 24th May 2017, Parsa
The government is on track to obtain 41 hectares of land located between Sirsiya Dry Port and the Integrated Check Post (ICP) in Birgunj. The government passed a mandate on January 1, 2017 for the land acquisition.
To implement the mandate, the Ministry of Finance bestowed the responsibility to Surya Sedai, head of Sirsiya Dry Port, on April 21. According to Sedai, the first phase of the acquisition has already started.
“Right now, we are inspecting the land, taking measurements and will soon publish the data,” said Sedai, “We will soon send a report to the departments concerned.”
The Chief District Officer will take on the role of coordinator and form a committee in order to determine the compensation for affected land owners. The committee will comprise of important stakeholders like the Land Revenue Chief and several representatives from various district offices. Sedai mentioned that the committee is actively moving forward to bring the land acquisition into the second phase of compensation determination soon. The ICP which is currently being constructed by India, is expected to be completed within the next 2 months. The ICP will house the Birgunj Customs Department. The operational Sirsiya Dry Port is starting to face capacity problems and when the ICP comes online, Sirsiya will be burdened with an additional 1000 vehicles. This will bring the Sirsiya Dry Port to breaking point as it was not designed to handle the additional load.
This is the reason for the government undertaking the land acquisition. The government aims to jettison the load on the ICP and the Sirsiya Dry Port, with an option for future expansion.
Around 80% of the trade of commodities with India is expected to be transacted through the ICP once it comes into operation, according to Sedai. “The Sirsiya Dry Port has failed to sustain higher burden of vehicles and we were almost compelled to build a railway there as an alternative,” said Sedai, “Once the ICP comes into operation, there will most likely be a huge leap in activity rates here.”
Birgunj is seeing a rise in the number of infrastructural projects such as the 6-lane Pathlaiya highway, Nijadh International Airport, Nijgadh-Kathmandu expressway and more. With this rapid pace of development combined with the ICP and Sirsiya Dry Port, Sedai sees Birgunj as the upcoming industrial hub of Nepal.
“That is when the people of Birgunj will realise the importance of this land acquisition,” said Sedai, “That is precisely why everyone should be supporting this initiative.”
The government plans to incorporate the acquired land into one industrial region, and will affect locals in Khalwatola village and local farmlands.