By Rupesh Dutta
New Delhi, July 3 (IANS) Tasked to improve road connectivity in remote parts of India’s Northeast, the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) is now venturing into Nepal where it has been assigned to guide the construction of over 600 km of postal roads in the Terai region bordering India.
A postal road is a road designated for the transportation of postal mail.
According to an MoU inked between India and Nepal, the decision was taken after a similar attempt by the Nepal Government failed to make progress due to negligence of the contractors in 2010.
“The Postal Road in the Terai region of Nepal will boost the country’s much awaited road network. Under this current project the NHIDCL will be tasked to guide the construction of 19 postal roads of an outlay of 600 km,” one of the top officials at NHIDCL told IANS declining to be identified.
He said the construction of 19 postal roads are under six packages for different parts of the Terai region.
“Basically we will be playing the role of consultants in the entire project. The biddings and all the tendering work of the road construction will be done by Nepal. Our work will basically be to see that the work does not witness failure like earlier,” the official said.
According to the official, the decision for handing over the guidance work was decided during the recent visit of Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Oli to India.
Abhay Thakur, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), told IANS: “Yes, It has been proposed to the Nepal Government for appointing NHIDCL as the consultant for the postal road projects. Though the precise MoU between the NHIDCL and Nepal Government is likely to be inked next week… all things are decided.”
He said contractors from both Nepal and India can do the bidding for the postal roads projects.
The NHIDCL authority, who did not wished to be named, said the postal road has been prioritised for the development of Terai/Madhes region by expanding the road network. The 600 km work is only for the first phase. Both the countries will decide the agenda for the remaining works also.”
Stating that the project was being financed by India, he said that the money will be given to Nepal for the execution of different stages of work, which will be over looked by the NHIDCL.
According to sources, the cost of the first phase of road construction in the Terai is estimated to increase to Rs 9 billion from the earlier Rs 7 billion. The total project cost will also rise from the previous estimate of Rs 29 billion. Around 130 bridges have to built along the 600 km highway.
Asked if NHIDCL has been given any other foreign projects, the authority said: “The creation of NHIDCL was for creation of difficult roads. The Government has full confidence on us and we are ready to undertake any project in any part of the world under any circumstance. However, there are no immediate foreign projects as of now.”
NHIDCL, created in 2014, has recently been given the task of constructing over 4,000 km of roads in the Northeast and Jammu and Kashmir. The organisation was established after Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and Public Works Department of the states failed to carry out road construction in many remote parts in hilly terrain.
(Rupesh Dutta can be contacted at Rupesh.email@example.com)