| November 21, 2017
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Big projects remain stalled for over six months

NEPALGUNJ, Feb 8: Various big projects in Banke district have remained stalled since over past six months citing various reasons.

There has been no work progress in the much-hyped Sikta Irrigation Project. Construction of the main canal has failed to gather pace. The Madhes agitation, trade blockade and acute shortage of raw materials are said to be the main obstacles for its completion.

The government had handed over the contract to build the main canal to Kalika CTCE JB seven months ago. As per the contract, the contractor should complete the construction of 10 kilometer main canal within two years. However, no noticeable progress has been made since the past six months.

“We haven't been able to speed up the work due to acute fuel crisis. As the fuel crisis is now easing up, we have begun resuming the work,” said the project director Saroj Pandey.  “We are hopeful of meeting the target as the country's situation is returning to normalcy,” he added.

The government has allocated Rs 1.7 billion for the project in the current fiscal year. According to senior divisional engineer Prakash Bahadur Karki, almost Rs 300 million has already been spent in compensating farmers for land acquisition, rebuilding quake-ravaged bridges, and constructing gates of main dams among others. Very minimal amount has been spent on building new infrastructures.

Similar is the condition of Ranjha-Jamunaha road section under Nepalgunj-Kohalpur Road Project. Although the contract period has already exceeded eight months, the responsible firm -- Pappu Contraction Company -- has not made any efforts to finish construction of four-lane road in that section.

The project, which is funded by the Asian Development Bank, has not made any progress since the last six months. At first, the contractor cited lack of raw materials and dispute with land owners for the delay. At present, acute fuel crisis created by the Indian blockade has been their excuse.

“We have not been able to speed up our work due to Madhes agitation and Indian trade blockade,” said Sumit Rauniyar, manager of the firm.
The Department of Roads piled up more responsibility on the contractor's shoulders after failing to complete the work on time. The department assigned the contractor to construct an additional six-kilometer canal. That project too has been running at snail's pace.

Meanwhile, Bedh Prakash Adhikari, chief district officer of Banke, claimed that necessary fuel was being made available to all the big projects in Banke. “We had provided fuel to all the big projects in the district, giving them top priority. Such projects were not affected much by the Madhes agitation and fuel crisis. Nepal Oil Corporation has records on how much quantity of fuel was provided,” he added.