Rs. 1.5 billion budget allocated for Mirchaiya-Katari-Ghumri road

Gaighat, June 2: The government has allocated a budget of Rs. 1.5 billion for the upgrading and blacktopping of the road from Mirchaiya in Siraha to Ghurmi in Udayapur along the Siddicharan Highway.

The budget unveiled by Finance Minister Barshaman Pun on Tuesday during the joint meeting of the Federal Parliament disclosed that the governmnent had allocated Rs.1.5 billion for the project.

Stretching from Mirchaiya in Siraha through Katari Municipality in Udayapur, this road serves as the primary route connecting the three districts of Upper Everest, Okhaldhunga, Solukhumbu, and Khotang, with the Tarai region.

Due to the lack of proper attention from previous governments, the condition of this road has significantly deteriorated. Local residents are compelled to travel on this dilapidated road, risking their lives due to its poor condition.

Following Finance Minister Pun’s presentation of the budget in the joint session of Parliament, widespread happiness ensued among the people not only in the Katari area of Udayapur but also in the Upper Everest region. 

This came after it was discovered that the allocated amount was listed in the red book of the budget published by the Ministry of Finance.

Ambar Bahadur Rayamajhi, a member of the House of Representatives representing Udayapur constituency-2, elected from the CPN-UML, highlighted a special initiative by federal parliamentarians from Okhaldhunga, Solukhumbu, and Khotang, in the Upper Everest region. 

The initiative aims to upgrade the road from Mirchaiya in Siraha to Katari to Ghurmi in Udayapur due to its perilous condition.

Rayamajhi said whether in the House of Representatives meetings or in informal discussions, he diligently advocated for a multi-year plan for the road.  He said he proposed initiating the project in the fiscal year 2024/25 and completing it within four years. 

His plan involved allocating Rs. 1.5 billion per year, ensuring a total of Rs. 4.5 billion in resources, and incorporating it into the budget over the four-year period. He said his effort  was successful. Nabaraj Shahi, a transport businessman from Katari, expressed concern over the hazardous condition of the narrow and steep road filled with dust and potholes.  He said that navigating such a road, where vehicles sway from side to side, not only makes driving difficult but also poses a constant risk to the lives of passengers.

Gopi Parajuli, a social worker from Katari, highlighted the significant impact of poor road condition on the local community. 

He noted that due to the inadequate roads, the transportation costs for daily necessities double, leading to financial strain, especially for residents of hilly districts. Parajuli emphasized that the dilapidated roads directly affected consumers, increasing their expenses, and also posed challenges for businessmen operating business  in the area.

With the recent allocation of budget, all transport businessmen, are now happy, he added. 

Most segments of the Mirchaiya-Katari road along the Siddicharan Highway have suffered extensive damage owing to the excessive transportation of limestone by multiple cement industries. According to him, the daily influx of over 1,500 tippers transporting limestone has notably exacerbated the road’s degradation.

Jaman Singh Vasnet, President of the Udaypur Industry and Commerce Association in Katari, asserts that the situation is worsening due to the substantial potholes plaguing the road.

The prblem arise when freight vehicles traverse roads designed to accommodate loads of up to 10 tonnes.

The primary road linking Okhaldhunga, Khotang, and Solukhumbu with the Tarai has deteriorated significantly, making travel perilous. He said that even pilgrims from Bhutan and India are compelled to undertake risks to visit Halesi Mahadev in Khotang, which is known as the ‘Pashupati of the East’, due to the road’s poor condition.

Elected representatives from the region have consistently brought the deteriorating state of the roads to the attention of both federal and provincial governments, emphasizing the heightened risks associated with their poor condition. However, the government hadn’t allocated such a large budget for road repairs in the past.

Concerns have been raised from various quarters regarding the condition of the main road, which is crucial for transporting essential goods like food, clothing, medicine, and construction materials to the hilly districts. However, since Tuesday, all parties have expressed their happiness.

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