KATHMANDU, June 28: The newly-formed Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority (KVTDA) on Wednesday announced that it will resume the road expansion drive by this weekend despite stiff resistance from some local residents.
KVTDA, which replaced the Kathmandu Valley Town Development Committee (KVTDC) -- the original architect of the drive -- over two months ago, also said that it will take legal action if some residents create any obstacle in the demolition of illegally-constructed physical structures.
"I am ready to talk to individuals who may be affected by the drive," said Keshav Sthapit, chief of the KVTDA, adding, "But, I will not listen to any protest group." The Kathmandu Town Development Commissioner dubbed the struggle committee formed by some local residents against the expansion drive as “just a noisy group of people backed by some local political leaders”.
In an all-party meeting at Singha Durbar, the former Kathmandu mayor proposed setting up a coordination group comprising government authorities and local residents instead of a struggle committee. "This is the only way forward," Sthapit later told Republica. "If such a group is formed, all issues can easily be sorted out. Everyone´s problems can be dealt with."
However, Sthapit tried to assuage the fear of the locals that they would be forced out of their homes without prior notice. "I will not force any one out of their houses just like that," he said. "I will personally talk to them before taking any decision. I will accept all their valid reasons and preconditions."
Work fast: Chief secy
At an all-party meeting, which was called after the struggle committee took up the issue with Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, Chief Secretary Madhav Ghimire instructed the heads of all the concerned government bodies to work on a war footing to clean the debris created by the demolition of physical structures and reconstruct the newly-widened roads.
Ghimire also warned of action if the concerned government bodies failed to clear all the debris and rebuild certain parts of the newly-widened roads within a few weeks. Ghimire also lambasted some government officials who tried to misguide the government by claiming that electricity poles along some widened-roads have already been relocated. "Do not try to cover up your inefficiency," an official present at the meeting quoted him as saying.
After Ghimire sought strong commitments from all the concerned government bodies, the Road Division Office of Kathmandu has promised to repair Chabahil-Bhatkepul-Bishalnagar, Gairidhara-Baluwatar and Balaju Bypass roads before July 9. However, division chief Gopal Bahadur Khadka said he will not be able to fulfill his promises if unavoidable circumstances occur.
According to Bhaikaji Tiwari, Kathmandu District Development Commissioner, 41 km road has already been widened in the valley as of now. "Some 30 km is being expanded," Tiwari said. However, not a single stretch of expanded road has been widened.