Locals in difficulty as Phalgunanda Road remains in limbo for three decades

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Fikkal (Ilam), Dec 19: Three decades have gone by since the construction of the Phalgunanda Marga (road) was started.

Billions have been invested for this road project linking Damak of Jhapa district with Chisopani Panchami of Panchthar district. The road passes through Mangesubung of Ilam.

However, the huge investment in the road project has gone to waste and the locals are facing inconvenience as transport is not easy. The construction of the road has not completed even after 30 years.

The track of the road has been opened along the bank of Ratuwa river and vehicles are operating on this dirt road.

Vehicles are operated from Damak to Gharti Dobhan on this track, but the vehicular movement comes to a halt even after moderate rainfall. Road construction has not picked up momentum due to the negligence of the construction company, it is said.

Five years have elapsed since the contract was awarded to the construction company for graveling and black-topping the 33 kilometres section of the Phalgunanda Marga.

Works on black-topping the road have not been started till date even after frequent extension of the contract term. The road widening and blacktopping works should have been carried out simultaneously, but it has not been done.

The contract term was initially for three years and the road widening and blacktopping works were planned to be carried out dividing the road in three sections.

The contract for blacktopping seven kilometres road from the starting point at Damak Under the first section was awarded to Mahalaxmi- Kirateshwar JV five years ago. As per the contract, the blacktopping works had to be carried out within 30 months. The contract was worth Rs 225 million and 964 thousand. The contract term was extended four times and the term of the latest extension was terminated in last mid-July, the Road Division Office, Damak said.

The contract for blacktopping the 15-kilometre-long second section and the 11-kilometre-long third section of the highway was awarded to Lumbini-Ganapati JV. The contract for the second section road construction was worth Rs 544 million 487 thousand and that for the third section was worth Rs 591 million 535 thousand.

Road Division Office Engineer Gautam Kumar Dev said that around 62 percent of work has been completed on the second section and 28 percent in the third section. According to him, only 50 percent works have been carried out on the total 33 kilometres long highway.