With India pledging to build five cross-border railway lines, construction work is under way on two—Jogbani-Biratnagar and Jayanagar- Bardibas.
Other proposed railway links are Nautanwa-Bhairahawa, Rupadiya-Nepalgunj and New Jalapaiguri-Kakarbhitta.
The government has acquired land for the Nautanwa-Bhairahawa section, and is in the process of acquiring land for Rupadiya-Nepalgunj. As for the Jalapaiguri-Kakarbhitta link is concerned, survey design is yet to be completed, according to Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport.
The two countries signed the memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the construction of the rail links during President Ram Baran Yadav’s India visit in February 2010. India will invest an estimated IRs 13.27 billion to construct the 183.06km railway, according to the Indian embassy’s website. Secretary Tulasi Prasad Sitauala said work on Jogbani-Biratnagar rail link has been moving ahead smoothly and it is expected to be completed within the next year.
However, a land acquisition-related problem has surfaced in Katahari, Morang, where a railway station has been planned. The work has stalled after the land owner filed a case demanding higher compensation. “Besides the work on the station, every this is ok,” he said. There will be two stations on the Nepali side of the border. India’s railway board has appointed IRCON as the project’s implementing agency.
The contract for Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas was awarded recently, according to the ministry. “The work is under way in Janakpur area,” said Sitaula. However, a station planned on the banks of the Rato Khola in Bardibas will be relocated.
According to Sitaula, the Indian side said a railway station on riverbank would not be feasible. As the station was originally planned to be built on public land, the government now has to acquire private land, which is expected to increase the project’s cost. There will be three rail stations along this route—in Janakpur, Jaleshwor and Bardibas.
Sitaula said construction has almost completed on the Indian side. Once all the five railway links are completed, Nepal will have a total of six such links, including one that connects the Birgunj Dry port. He said these rail links would help smooth flow of goods, thereby boosting bilateral and multilateral trade.