KATHMANDU, July 3: In a road-expansion review meeting last week, Chief Secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire rebuked a senior official of Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA) for giving false information about relocation of electricity poles along the newly-widened road stretches in the capital.
“Don´t lie to me,” an angry Ghimire told Juju Kaji Ranjit, the director of NEA´s Kathmandu Regional Office. “I know how much work you´ve done. You can´t mislead me.”
Usually cool-tempered, Ghimire burst out when Ranjit claimed to have relocated some electricity poles along the widened road sections. After all, it looks pretty obvious to everyone -- not only to Ghimire -- that the NEA has not relocated any of the electricity poles so far. However, Ranjit says Ghimire´s outburst was a result of ´misunderstanding´. “We´ve indeed relocated some electricity poles. But we have yet to shift the power cables to the new poles,” Ranjit said.
According to Ranjit, Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority (KVTDA), which is now at the helm of the ongoing road expansion drive, has not completely cleared any of the expanded road stretches and this has made it difficult for NEA to shift the power cables to the new poles. “We´ve erected new poles to replace old ones but as some houses have yet to be demolished so we have not been able to shift the cables.”
Although the KVTDA has so far expanded a 42-km stretch of different road segments by bulldozing illegally-constructed physical structures, most of the widened road segments have not been fully cleared for the NEA to relocate electricity poles. For instance, the NEA has been able to erect only 42 poles along the Kamalpokhari-Ratopul road stretch where 68 poles need to be erected for shifting cables.
“In most cases, KVTDA has allowed the locals to carefully remove those parts of their houses that encroach upon public roads,” says Surya Prasad Shivakoti, Regional Assistant Director of the NEA, Kathmandu. “We can´t accomplish our works unless all roads are cleared completely.”
According to Shivakoti, three of the seven distribution centers of the NEA, Kathmandu have already figured out the numbers of poles that need to be replaced with new ones. A total of 740 new poles need to be erected in Ratnapark, Maharajgunj and Baneshwar areas. But, only 395 poles have been erected so far in these areas. “Cables can be shifted only when all 740 poles are replaced with new ones,” says Shivakoti.
The Kathmandu office of the NEA has received over Rs 20 million for shifting electricity poles to the edges of the newly-widened roads. “This is not sufficient,” says Shivakoti. “But, as far as funds are concerned, we´ve no problem. We will use our own funds and later claim reimbursement from the government. But the roads have to be cleared first so that we can erect the poles and shift the cables.”
The delay in shifting electricity poles has also delayed the blacktopping of the newly-expanded roads. Road officials say all electricity poles should be relocated before they can start blacktopping and repairs.