If he is remembered for nothing else, Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai would like to leave his mark on Nepal's capital with his ambitious road expansion drive. But he is finding that demolishing buildings was the easy part, coordinating between various government departments and rebuilding the roads are much more difficult.
A year after bulldozers tore through the narrow roads up Lajimpat and Gairi Dhara, some of them are being blacktopped. But Kathmandu is still looking like it has been struck by a mega-earthquake and the streets are enveloped in a perpetual pall of yellow dust.
PICS: THOMAS BELL
So far, only parts of two priority areas have been blacktopped: Kamal Pokhari-Gaushala and the Sital Niwas-Baluwatar road. Work started on Wednesday to tarmac the Bhagwati Bahal-Bhatbhateni stretch.
There are still some houses that have refused to be torn down, and there are bottlenecks near the Russian, Chinese, French, American, and Japanese embassies which have refused to give an inch.
Rajan Sarki was forced to close his shoe shop near Maligaun alley because the hut in which it was rented was torn down. "The rent here is higher, and my old patrons don't yet know that I have shifted here," he says. Bakeries, groceries, and meat shops have been similarly affected, not just by the move but also by dust.
The government is keen to finish laying down water and sewage pipes and moving electricity poles over the winter before blacktopping the roads. Altogether 95km of roads have been earmarked for re-construction, but the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee (KVTDC) wants to increase it to at least 116km.
Although most people in Kathmandu credit the Bhattarai government of "at least doing something", among those who have lost property and haven't got compensation there is festering anger. The cost of tearing down and widening roads has already exceeded Rs 1 billion, and completing the blacktopping will cost another Rs 5 billion, and that does not include compenstation.
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The government's no-nonsense approach to road expansion is up against diplomatic pressures