The construction of the railway from Budhanagar in India to Katahari in Nepal started nine years ago. Despite the target of completing the construction in two years, the railway construction project, which has been declining for seven years, has been stalled for two years. Due to the inability to resolve the land compensation dispute towards Nepal, the work of laying the league has been stopped and the expectation of the citizens of State-1 to use the railway in the country is also becoming uncertain.
It has been two years since the railway extension to Nepal was halted due to the failure to resolve the land compensation dispute that has existed for 11 years. Construction of the Bathanaha-Biratnagar-Katahari Railway in India was started in 2011 with the support of the Government of India. There is a dispute over land compensation in the area of 3 km out of 10 km from the station in the border area of India and Nepal to Katahari.
The landowners have been demanding that the compensation should not be taken on the basis of the valuation of the land determined by the government and on the basis of circulation.
Due to non-transfer of land in Katahari area, work is yet to be done to open the track in an area of 2 km. Construction of station and expansion of railway in Katahari has not started yet.
Two years ago, the first train came from Bathnaha, India to the customs yard at Biratnagar-18 Budhanagar. A freight train carrying the national flags of both Nepal and India has been brought to the customs yard at Budhanagar on the base trail.
The issue of arrival of train in Biratnagar on November 3, 2008 was very popular at that time. But in the days that followed, neither the arrival of the train nor the construction of the railway has been able to move forward.
Compensation dispute to the highest
The people living around 3 km of Katahari area have been obstructing the railway expansion along with the construction of station in Katahari until the compensation is provided. The land compensation dispute has now reached the Supreme Court.
According to Chief District Officer of Morang, Koshahari Niraula, it was decided to acquire the land in 2068 BS by compensating the locals for the construction of the railway. However, Niraula said that the work of the railway could not proceed as some landowners in Katahari area were not ready to give land in the government assessment. “Despite repeated discussions and negotiations with the landowners for a long time to reach an agreement, no agreement has been reached,” he said.
Niraula also informed that the necessary process would be intensified as per the Land Acquisition Act 2034 BS for the land acquisition of the farmers who do not come to understand the land compensation. According to the District Administration Office, Morang, 26 out of 565 rich people of 119 bighas of land acquired by the government are yet to receive compensation. Deepak Kumar, construction manager of the Indian side, said that the work could not start due to non-receipt of permission for construction materials and site clearance letter from India.
“We have not received permission to bring vehicles and luggage and site clearance letter,” he said.
The land acquired for the construction of the railway is a fertile area. The locals have complained that 21 bighas of land has been acquired by 22 locals and some of them are in a situation where their only source of income is land.
Kishor Chaudhary, coordinator of the Compensation Struggle Committee, said that they had to go to court as the land was undervalued. Chaudhary said that the government had allocated Rs.
8 km leak construction remaining
A total of 18.6 km long railway extension from Bathnaha-Biratnagar-Katahari was started. But for Nepal, there is still 8 kilometers of leak to be laid.
The Indian Ircon International has laid a railway line for the railway from Bhediyari on the Nepal side to an area of only 5 km north. The construction work of custom yard in Bhediyari has also been completed.
Balram Mishra, the then director of the railway department, had said that the train would reach Katahari within a year if the land dispute was resolved. But even though the construction work of the railway has been stopped for two years, no initiative or effort has been made to continue the construction work by resolving the dispute.
2 billion more for leaks and custom yards
Indian construction company Ircon International has stated that Rs 2.13 billion has been spent on laying the railway line to Nepal. The construction company has stated that a total of Rs 4.48 billion has been spent for the construction of the railway from Bathnaha in India to Bhediyari in Biratnagar.
It has been two years since the construction of 1,500 meters long and 150 meters wide railway station was completed in Budhanagar. It was expected that it would be easier to import goods from third countries after the railway connects Katahari via Biratnagar.
Chairman of the Morang Trade Association, Prakash Mundada, said that there was confusion over the running of the train to Katahari as the construction work was not picking up speed. He said that the issue of compensation should be resolved as soon as possible as both the passenger and freight trains would come on the railway track under construction with the help of Government of India.
According to the industrialists, the cost of transporting goods is less and cheaper as the goods transported by rail from Calcutta reach Katahari directly.
The engine of the train has been tested at the railway leak under construction from Bathanaha to Biratnagar Custom Yard of India and the distance from Bathanaha to Budhanagar which came into operation two years ago is 8 kilometers.
. There are 5 kilometers towards India and 3 kilometers towards Nepal.
The construction side had worked with a plan to run a train from Bathnaha to Budhanagar till December 12, 2019.
The Prime Minister of Nepal KP Sharma Oli and the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi were scheduled to jointly inaugurate the Janakpur and Bathnaha to Katahari railway line on December 12, 2019, if the construction side could continue to work.
‘Settle Compensation Dispute Quickly’
There is a bilateral agreement that the Government of Nepal will provide the land and the Government of India will provide the physical infrastructure.
Ircon International Farbisgunj, India, which was awarded the contract for the construction of the railway, had been claiming that the Biratnagar train would arrive by last October. But due to non-transfer of land, it is doubtful that the work will be completed as per the target.
A 1,500 meter long and 150 meter wide railway station is being constructed in Budhanagar. In the first phase, freight train service will start. The agreement stipulates that passenger train service will also start immediately. The government aims to connect the railway to the east-west highway by bringing it to Itahari.
The Government of India has completed the construction of Integrated Customs Check Post (ICP) on the Nepal side and ICP has come into operation. According to Bhim Ghimire, president of the industry association Morang, the railway line from Bathnaha to Katahari is under the concept of ICP. With this railway, more than 600 industries of Morang and Sunsari and thousands of traders can easily get the facility of import and export.
He said that the issue of compensation dispute should be settled soon by the government by making a decision from the fast track and land should be made available to the Government of India for the construction of the railway. “Along with the construction of ICP, the construction of railways is also necessary,” he said.