October 23, 2012
The Nepal Army is one of the most cost effective bodies for national development in Nepal. For many decades the army has utilized its well-trained manpower and resources to improve the infrastructure, in spite of economic limitations and rugged geographical challenges. Over the years, developing road networks and bridges in remote areas has become the army’s hallmark contribution to enhancing the daily life of rural Nepal.
This week the army celebrated its latest achievement in Chame, district headquarters of Manang, when 18 public vehicles carrying passengers reached Koto village (near Chame). Until now, Manang district had no access to motorable roads linking it to other parts of Nepal.
Some international tourists have bemoaned the fact that the 69-kilometer road, connecting Besisahar to Chame, has shortened the Annapurna Circuit trekking route. This is foreign navel-gazing. The road provides a tremendous boost to the quality of life for local inhabitants – easier access to medical care being one of the benefits. Chairman of Manang Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chitra Prasad Dwale also pointed out that the “availability of road transportation has lowered the cost of goods in Manang district.”
The road is not for the faint-hearted or inattentive drivers. According to Technical Major Indibar Gurung, the army’s Chief of the Works Battalion, “We are allowing only light-weight vehicles. The road runs along stiff cliffs and single mistake can take life easily and many drivers have been found drinking and driving in this region.” Indeed, the track hugs more than 20 cliffs including Dharapani cliff, Sirantal cliff and Pimang cliff.
To the army’s credit, by doubling its task force, the army managed to complete the track on time and within budgetary constraints.
Here are some of the army’s most significant contributions to Nepal’s infrastructure in years past:
- The old Kantipath project linking Kathmandu to the Indian border.
- The Kharipati-Nagarkot road.
- Thee Trishuli-Somdang road, cutting through 105 kilometers of extremely difficult terrain northwest of Kathmandu. Completed in 1990.
- The 88-kilometer-long Katari-Okhaldhunga road in the Everest region. Completed in 2005.
- The 86-kilometer-long Salyan-Musikot road in Rukum District, one of the most isolated regions in Nepal.
- The 232-kilometer-long Surkhet-Jumla road, built in large part by the Nepal Army. Besides the construction of the road, this project incorporates various other side projects for the improvement of the local rural society. Rebuilding of irrigation chanmnels, vocational trainings for the underprivileged, micro hydroelectric projects, among other projects, were incorporated.
- The 60-kilometer-long Baglung-Beni-Jomsom road.
- The 65-kilometer Besi Sahar-Chaame road. This follows the Marsyangdi River along the Annapurna Circuit.
- The 107-kilometer-long Chinchu-Jajarkot road. Not yet completed.
- The 145-kilometer-long Musikot-Buirtibang road in the mid-hills of the West and Mid West Nepal.
- The 31-kilometer-long Devsthal-Shourjhari road, also in the mid-hills of Western Nepal.
- The 45-kilometer-long Drabya Shah Marga road. It was build with a view to combat insurgency by pursuing development and security simultaneously. The 37-kilometer-long Satdobato-Niwel-Balua rad, the 39-kilometer-long Gorkha-Mankamana road and the 45-kilometer-long Gorkha-Aarughat-Orkhet road were also built under this program.