Provide Rs 1.25 billion for Janakpur-Bijulpura railway project, PAC tells MoF
KATHMANDU, May 7: Public Account Committee of the Parliament has directed Ministry of Finance (MoF) to provide Rs 1.25 billion to the Department of Railway (DoR) within a week so that it can acquire land for the construction and expansion of Janakpur-Bijulapura railway track, which India has agreed to develop.
"The committee directs MoF to allocate the required budget for land acquisition within a week," Ram Krishna Yadav, chair-person of the committee said after a hearing on Monday. The DoR said it needs Rs 1.25 billion for completing the land acquisiton process.
"The committee also directs the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW) to distribute compensation to the land owners within a month," said Yadav.
Project to develop Janakpur-Bijulapura railway track was agreed between Nepal and India in February 2010, when President Ram Baran Yadav visited India. Under the project, the Indian government agreed to upgrade the existing 51-km long railway track to broad gauge and extend it up to Bardibas, a major junction along the East-West Highway.
But the project has stalled since the MoPPW placed the project in least priority. As a result, the MoF had been reluctant to provide budget for the project.
On Monday, however, MoF officials said the ministry was trying its best to arrange budget within this fiscal year. The committee, after hearing the MoF officials, instructed the ministry to manage the required fund by pooling the unspent budget from other projects.
Lawmakers in the committee also asked Minister for Physical Planning and Works Hriyedesh Tripathi to raise complications that he faced due to diverse status of land owners with Prime Minister Dr Babu Ram Bhattarai and sort out the problem.
Tripathi said the land being acquired by the government was agricultural land. "If we did not compensate the farmers right away, the locals will simply not handover the land to us. This will only subject us to difficulty," said he, demanding release of complete fund at one go.
According to DoR, it needs to acquire a total of 220 hectares of land from Janakpur to Bijulpura to upgrade the existing track.