Property loss to road widening is double govt expenditure
KATHMANDU, Dec 7: People have lost twice as much in property as the government´s total expenditure on widening and smoothening roads in Kathmandu Valley.
Government estimates show that it would cost Rs 5 billion to expand the 122 road stretches covered by the widening program while people whose property had to be demolished have lost around Rs 10 billion.
"People have lost around Rs 10 billion during this entire process of road widening," Krishna Hari Baskota, secretary at the Office of Prime Minister and Council of Ministers (OPMCM), told Republica.
According to Baskota, more than 1,000 houses have been affected on the 200 km of road widened. "Our rough calculation is that people have lost more than the government´s total investment in the road expansion," he said.
He further said it was a different matter that people had built their houses without conforming to laws and regulations, "but loss is loss".
Bhai Kaji Tiwari, chief of Kathmandu Valley Town Development Authority (KVTDA), also echoed Baskota. "Yes, the rough calculation is that people have lost a huge amount pulling down their premises and renovating them," Tiwari said.
Baskota, who has been on field inspection several times to speed up the road widening, said that the figure on loss for people emerged from his interactions with engineers and people whose houses have been affected by the road widening. "I think we should also recognize what people have lost in the course of this process but I find people mostly supportive of the government´s program," Baskota said.
The government has released Rs 6 million to KVTDA to distribute to households that have lost their entire property during the road expansion. "The Ministry of Finance (MoF) released Rs 6 million a few weeks back to distribute to 10 households in the Lazimpat-Maharajgunj section that have lost everything to the road widening drive," Baskota disclosed.
The government doesn´t have a budget for road expansion as such but OPMCM has directed MoF to arrange the required amount in order to complete the work in time.
"The government is confident the road widening program will not be short of funds," Baskota said. "MoF is managing the budget through transfers from other heads."
According to Baskota, the government has already allocated Rs 1 billion for the road widening. "An additional Rs 4 billion will be arranged without delay to complete the work on time," he said.