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Nepal: Railway construction works picking up speed amidst lockdown

"We will complete the work under our responsibility within two months," said Ram Binod Mandal, the project manager of Kalika Raman JV Company which has been awarded the contract for laying gravel and constructing bridges and causeways of the railway project.

MAHOTTARI:- The District Administration Office Mahottari has imposed prohibitory order throughout the district to contain the spread of coronavirus.

The restrictive order that was issued on August 17 for 10 days has been extended by five more days. However, one can see workers busy in their work constructing the Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas railway project amidst the lockdown. The big tippers can be seen fetching earth while leveling machines are at work on the railway track. “We will complete the work under our responsibility within two months,” said Ram Binod Mandal, the project manager of Kalika Raman JV Company which has been awarded the contract for laying gravel and constructing bridges and causeways of the railway project. Construction works are ongoing on some sections of the 52 kilometers stretch out of the 69 kilometers length of the Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas Railway while they have been completed at some other sections.

Construction has been completed on the 34 kilometers section of the railway from Jayanagar to Kurtha, ready for the operation of the train service. Works have reached to the stage of laying the railway track along with the 17 kilometers distance from the proposed Bijalpura station to Kurtha, out of the 18 kilometers stretch from Kurtha up to the Badahari River of Bhangaha-5. Filling and leveling of soil is going on on about one-kilometer distance from Bijalpura station to the Badahari river. “Now, we are doing the filling and leveling works. We would be done with the first layer of blanketing (laying gravel) work in two months.

We will start the next phase of the works after that,” Mandal said. Bridges except two small culverts have already been constructed on the stretch of the railway from Kurtha to Bijalpura. According to Mandal, the works have reached to the stage of laying down the railway sleeper and fixing the track now. The main construction company, IRCON International of India, has sub-contracted two Nepali companies the preliminary works like laying soil, leveling, laying gravel and constructing culverts on the 52 kilometers of the total 69 kilometers railway from Jayanagar to Bardibas, and works have been completed on 34 kilometers while they are on 18 kilometers.

All construction works on the 34-kilometers section from Jayanagar to Kurtha have been over and have reached the stage of operation. The train compartments and engine have been procured and they have been brought to the railway junction across the border in India, Director General of the Railway Department, Balaram Mishra, said. He said the operation of the train on this stretch has been delayed because of the lockdown situation both on the Nepal side and the India side, and also as the works related to the management of skilled human resources for the operation of the railway have yet to completed. However, Mishra said that the train would be operated from Jayanagar to Kurtha within 2020.

The works on expansion of the Jayanagar-Janakpur-Bardibas Broad-gauge Railway had started in 2014 with the financial assistance of Rs 7.20 billion provided by the Government of India. Originally targeted to complete within 2017, the railway expansion project could not meet the deadline due to the various movements, the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake, and recently the coronavirus pandemic. This railway first came into operation 83 years back. It was operated on a 51 kilometers route from Bijalpura (Bhangaha Mahottari) – Janakpur (Dhanusha) – Jayanagar (India). It was later limited to 29 kilometers from Janakpur-Jayanagar after the Bighi Bridge on the railway at Loharpatti in Mahottari was washed away by a flood in 2001. The railway service on this stretch was also stopped after the initiation of the railway expansion project in 2013. –

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