8 road projects set to move ahead as India gives okay

The construction of eight road sections financed by India’s second line of credit to Nepal is all set to get underway as the southern neighbour has given its no objection letter to the selection of contractors, officials at the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport said.

India gave its clearance after Nepali and Indian officials held talks in New Delhi a few days ago to address the issue of delays in getting India’s approval for each stage of the project.

According to the Physical Infrastructure Ministry, the contractors for these road

projects had been selected more than six months ago, but they could not start work as they had to wait for the go-ahead from the Indian authorities.

Among the road projects that have been cleared are Sanfebagar-Martadi, Bardaghat-Paldanda-Tribeni, Bharatpur-Meghauli, Janakpur Ring Road, Balaju Bypass-Ranipauwa (Nuwakot), Chhahare-Bidur, Kamal Binayak-Nagarkot and Ghorahi-Holeri known as Shahid Marg.

Devendra Karki, joint secretary at the Physical Infrastructure Ministry, said that the contractors would get their mobilization allowance soon, and that the construction and upgradation of these road sections would start shortly.

A total of 11 road projects are being financed by the second line of credit extended to Nepal by India. The other three projects are Lamosanghu-Jiri, Balkhu-Dakshinkali and Lumbini Ring Road.

“We are in the process of receiving the no objection letter for the Lumbini Ring Road among the three remaining projects,” said Karki. “There was re-bidding for the

two other projects after the bidders failed to meet the required qualification criteria.”

The second line of credit worth $250 million was approved during the then Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai’s visit to India in 2011. The first credit line was worth $100 million.

The projects funded by the first and second lines of credit were affected by the longer time India took to award the contracts and release the loan amounts, said government officials. According to a senior official of the Physical Infrastructure Ministry, it had taken around six months to get the approval for the projects under the first line of credit too.

The provision requiring Nepal to obtain the approval of the Indian authorities at each step such as project selection, detailed project report and awarding of contracts has resulted in delays in the implementation of the projects.

“In the case of the second line of credit, the Indian side asked for clarification every step of the way after the contract was awarded,” said a ministry official. “If the Indian authorities had put their questions when the progress reports of the projects were submitted to them, it would not have taken so much time to issue the no objection letter.”

Realizing the fact that procedural delays had affected project implementation, India has agreed to make the procedure short and flexible for the third line of credit worth $1 billion which was extended to Nepal when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited Nepal in August.

During the follow-up meeting held in New Delhi a few days ago, the two sides agreed to eliminate many procedural steps so that the loan could be utilized without delay.

Leader of the Nepali talks team Finance Secretary Suman Sharma said that the two sides had agreed to create a provision allowing Nepal to utilize the credit by just “informing” the Indian authorities about the progress instead of obtaining their approval.

Source: eKantipur