The government has finally endorsed the detailed project report (DPR) of the Kathmandu-Terai/Madhes Fast Track project, five months after its first submission, and four days after re-submission for endorsement.
A meeting of the Council of Ministers on Sunday (August 18) endorsed the DPR, according to Under-secretary Manoj Kumar Acharya at the Ministry of Defence. The DPR was forwarded to the Cabinet in March this year.
The NA has estimated the new construction cost, including VAT, of the national pride project at Rs. 175 billion. Without VAT, the project will cost Rs. 155 billion, according to the Nepali Army Headquarters. “Following the endorsement, it will now help us take the remaining work, including the international contract bidding process for the tunnel construction, ahead at speed,” said Brigadier General and Nepali Army spokesman Bigyan Dev Pandey.
For the construction of 87 bridges, it has already called international bidding and short listed six international companies, five Chinese and one Turkish, Pandey said. According to him, the NA received Rs. 15 billion for the current fiscal year (2019/20) to take the remaining work ahead. Last year, in the absence of the DPR, Rs. 9 billion of the total Rs. 15 billion budget received for the project had frozen. “In the current fiscal year, no budget will freeze as the government has endorsed the DPR,” Pandey said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence said that the DPR was endorsed with some minor amendments to the project after reviewing it and consulting with some line ministry officials (Ministry of Physical Infrastructure) of the federal government.
As per the newly endorsed DPR of the project, the total length of the fast track will be 72.5 km. Earlier, the length was estimated at 76.2 km. The previous DPR had dreamed of only one tunnel for the project, but the latest DPR has proposed three tunnels and 87 bridges. Of the bridges, 16 will be of international standards, according to the NA. The total lengths of the bridges will be 10.59 km and the tunnels will be 6.41 km.
The DPR was prepared by South Korean Soosung Engineering and Company Limited. The project was going to be developed at par with the Asian Highway standards of ‘A’ category, Pandey said.
He said the project would be developed under Design and Build model, under which the international contractors will prepare the infrastructure under the given design and model prepared by the NA as mentioned in the DPR.
After finalising the DPR, the NA had submitted it to the Ministry of Defence for cabinet endorsement on March 16, 2019. The NA was given the responsibility to develop the project on May 4, 2017. The NA has to complete the project by August 2021.
Excluding the length of the tunnels and bridges, the exact length of the road will be 55.5 km. According to the NA, the tunnels will also be of four lanes with two-way bypass sections – one for Kathmandu-bound vehicles and another for the Nijgadh-bound ones.
According to Brigadier Pandey, of the total length of the project, 100 per cent work of 25 km road section had been completed, about 80 per cent of 10 km and 50-80 per cent of 16 km of the road sections have also completed.