Shanishchare locals protest over blacktopping delays

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By Our Correspondent,Urlabari, Dec. 2: Locals of Shanishchare in Morang have obstructed a section of the Gandhi-Manmohan Marga, a road connecting Shanishchare, Gandhi Ashram and Rangeli, as the delay in blacktopping the highway continued.

The contractor has left the road only by gravelling it due to which the locals face dust in the summer and winter seasons and mud in the monsoon for years.

The road connects the East-West Highway with the Biratnagar-Rangeli-Ambari road. Its construction was awarded to Kanchharam Construction in 2020 through the Postal Highway Project. The estimated budget for the road is Rs. 1,949,400,000.

Gandhi-Manmohan Marga was expected to be a one-of-its-kind road in Morang district. The width of the road is 60 feet and will have drainage on both sides. Of the 60 feet, 24 feet would be blacktopped and the remaining area would be used for a cycle lane and footpath.

However, the contractor has left the work without even completing half of the project. It has been three months since the contract’s deadline ended in mid-September this year.

As a form of protest, locals have obstructed the road in Mahendra Chowk, a settlement in Ward No. 9 of Pathari-Shanishchare Municipality, sinceTuesday.

On Wednesday, the locals had also organised a press meet on the road.

“We were happy when the contractor started destroying the old road and started construction for a bigger road. However, they left the project without completing. Now, the condition of the road is extremely poor,” said Chhabindraman Singh Karki, a 79-year-old local.

Karki has given around five katthas of land, which had an opening of 760 feet along the road. “It has been four years since I donated my land. Yet, I have been bound to travel along a dusty road,” Karki added.

Yadav Adhikari, a hotelier in Mahendra Chowk, informed that his businesses were affected due to the dust in the road. “People do not come to my hotel because of the dusty road,” said Adhikari.

Likewise, Rama Dahal, a local, said that the dust from the road covers all the items in my house, including utensils.

The Gandhi-Manmohan Marga is 25 kilometres long and connects the East-West Highway to Sikti of India via Pathari-Shanishchare, Sunawarshi and Rangeli Municipalities. 

“If the road is blacktopped, it will increase trade with India, and it will end the compulsion to use a dusty and poor road,” said Birendra Gurung, coordinator of the struggle committee. 

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