Some 500 Dolakha locals joined hands to form a human chain in Charikot, Dolakha on Tuesday. The estimated 500, including journalists, civil society members, students, entrepreneurs and other factions of the local community were protesting against the contracting companies assigned the task of upgrading the Charikot – Khadichaur road.
The Charikot-Khadichaur road, a 53 km stretch connecting Khadichaur (Araniko Highway) to Charikot (District HQ of Dolakha) is severely damaged, and takes an alarming 3 hours to cover (longer during the monsoons). Four years ago, the contractors dug up the road as a preliminary task towards expanding the road – however, little progress has been made towards the black-topping, severely adding to the woes of commuters.
The road upgrading was being done with the assistance of Indian Axim Bank, and was divided into two parts. The stretch between Khadichaur to Shahare Danda was awarded to Simanchal Construction Company of India and Nepal Gauri Parpati/Sunaula Khimti JV. They were supposed to complete the construction by October, 2017, however only 11 kms of the assigned 25 kms has been blacktopped till date. Likewise, the contractors of the section from Shahare Danda to Charikot also have abandoned the work in the middle.
The bad shape of the road has severely affected connectivity and tourism in the district – in July, 2019, after the first bout of monsoons, the road had to be closed for 3 days. The closure caused shortage of several essential supplies in the district, including medicines.
The frustrated locals were also inspired by the Nagarkot protests, wherein locals pasted the picture of the contractor on buses and electric poles to raise awareness on the delay in road upgrading. Buses plying along the Charikot – Kathmandu road adorned the picture of Deepak Sapkota, MD of Shanker Mali Construction Service.
While the unique initiative may have inspired action in Nagarkot, sadly it did not yield similar results in Dolakha. Therefore the human chain.