21-27 February 2014 #695

Train a-comin’

Madhav Nepal, BBC Nepali Service, 14 February

Officials have said work on the East-West electric rail has already begun in different sections across the Tarai. According to the Department of Rail (DoR) this includes handing out compensation to landowners whose properties fall on or along the rail track. According to the DoR, a Korean consultant conducted a survey and submitted a proposal to build the 65km Tamsariya (Nawalparasi) – Butwal (Rupandehi) section with links to Bhairawa and Lumbini via a station in Butwal.

The state has already allocated funds for the railway in this year’s budget and the DoR is pressing ahead with its plans in certain sections. “We have also begun to dig 5km of track from Simara to Bardibas,” says Nawaraj Bhatta, an engineer at the DoR.

After the DoR went on a site visit to Butwal to survey the alignment, residents of Kalikanagar were terrorised by the prospects of having their homes bulldozed. They are now going from door to door of local politicians and district officers demanding that the government provide them wih clear and timely information about the railway.

“The officials went around marking off places while conducting the survey and now people are confused and think their properties will be torn down,” says Ram Raj Pokhrel, a local of Kalikanagar.

The entire line runs almost 950km from Kakarbhitta to Mahendranagar and laying down the tracks alone is estimated to cost an average of Rs 200 million per kilometre. Besides this ambitious project, the government has already signed an agreement with India to link five border customs points to the East-West railway line. Currently, the country only has 29km of rail tracks from Janakpur to Jayanagar.

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