Karnali builds 1,021 suspension bridges

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By Navin Subedi,Surkhet, Dec. 7: The provincial and local governments of Karnali has so far built 1,021 suspension bridges in the 10 districts of the province.

In the present fiscal year 2023/24 alone, the provincial government has built 27 bridges, with a plan to construct 67 more. Work is ongoing on an additional 153 bridges which began construction last fiscal year.

The province had completed construction of 77 suspension bridges in the fiscal year 2021/22 and 107 bridges in the fiscal year 2022/23. 

The Infrastructure Development Directorate, under Karnali's Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Urban Development, has been supporting the bridge-building campaign financially while the Human Rights and Environment Development Centre (HuRENDEC) and Sewak Kailali have been providing technical assistance.

Prayog Acharya, programme coordinator representing the organisations providing technical support, informed that of the 77 bridges constructed in 2021/22, 12 were constructed by the provincial government while 65 were constructed through the federal government's conditional grant.

Similarly, of the 107 constructed in 2022/23, 74 were built under the federal government's conditional grant, 32 were built by the provincial government and one was built by the Kaike Rural Municipality using its resources.

Acharya said that the local levels of the district had called on the provincial and federal governments to build 1,000 more suspension bridges. 

He informed that the local levels of Humla, Mugu, Dolpa, Jumla and Kalikot visited the Department of Local Infrastructure in Lalitpur in March and demanded the construction of 53, 29, 65, 94 and 86 suspension bridges respectively. Local governments of Dailekh, Surkhet, Salyan, Rukum West and Jajarkot also went with them and asked for the building of 98, 131, 39, 23 and 67 suspension bridges. 

The provincial government has also requested the construction of 295 bridges.

It is estimated that a budget of Rs. 5 billion is required to build all these bridges.

Regarding the money spent on bridge construction so far, the provincial government spent Rs. 176.61 million in 2022/23 while the federal government spent Rs. 248.32 million. 

In 2021/22, the federal government allocated Rs. 270.80 million, of which, Rs. 217.70 million was spent. Meanwhile, the provincial government had allocated Rs. 192.25 million and spent Rs. 60 million. The local governments allocated a total budget of Rs. 130.27 million and, from it, spent Rs. 70.96 million.

Talking to The Rising Nepal, Karnali's Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Urban Development Mangal Shahi said that the provincial government has been building bridges since its establishment to ensure the province's citizens can cross rivers easily and safely. He said, "Despite limited resources, we have not stopped building bridges because we prioritise the safety and comfort of our citizens." 

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