The work on a section of the Mid-Hill Highway at Ramechhap has been halted after the Energy Ministry asked the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure not to construct road along Sunkoshi River where two hydropower projects are planned to be developed.

    The government has planned to develop two storage-type hydel projects—Sunkoshi A and Sunkoshi B. A contract for the construction of a bridge over Tamakoshi River has also been cancelled.

    “Energy Ministry has sent us a formal letter not to build a road along the lower banks of the river,” said Ayodhya Prasad Shrestha, chief of the Eastern Region of Mid-Hill Highway. “The letter has been circulated to all the agencies under Department of Roads.”

    Locals had been pleased that an important highway was passing through this locality. The prospect of a road connectivity has now changed into rage following the halt to the road construction. The construction of bridge over Tamakoshi River in Benighat along with a road towards Dovantar from the bridge has been halted.

    On Friday, about 1,000 locals gathered to express their concerns and urged the concerned authorities not be abandoned the projects.

    Nawaraj Majhi, a resident of Seleghat, said people from Seleghat, Puchhigat, Dakha, Sitkha, Belghari, Kothaway, Lubhughat, Sinduretar, Chiyadi had been demanding that the road be constructed as per the existing survey. The locals are planning to go to Kathmandu to put their concerns before the authorities.

    According to the Mid-Hill Highway Office, the Energy Ministry has asked them to build the road 600 metres above sea level to avoid inundation after the construction of a dam on the river. Following the ministry’s letter, the dozers have remained idle at the project site.

    But the locals are against the ministry’s plan. “We will be displaced from here and we don’t have any alternative,” said Majhi. The 10-meter wide road under the Mid-Hill Highway is being constructed in Ramechhap on the assumption that the BP Highway in Sidhuli will not sustain heavy traffic.

    Project chief Shrestha, however, tried to clarify that the letter says the road should be built 600 metres above sea level not that of the river. “Many sections of the under construction road are above 600 metre above sea level,” he said.

    Source : The Kathmandu Post