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Madhya Pahadi Lokmarga (Mid-Hill Highway)

Friday, March 22, 2024

The ongoing road project in Nepal, known as the Pushpalal Highway Madhya Pahadi Lokmarga or fast track, spans approximately 1,776 kilometers (1,104 mi), making it the longest national highway in the country upon completion. Nepal’s landscape comprises three main regions: the southern Terai plains, the northern Himalayan mountains, and the middle hilly region. This highway traverses through the mid-hills region exclusively, beginning from Chiyo Bhanjyang in Panchthar District (Koshi province) in the east and concluding at Jhulaghat in Baitadi District (Sudurpashchim Province) in the far west.

Madhya Pahadi Lokmarga Map
Madhya Pahadi Lokmarga Map

This new highway is set to link 24 hilly districts and 215 villages across the country. Starting from Panchthar and stretching to Baitadi, it will pass through picturesque regions like Terathum, Dhankuta, and many more. Pati Bhanjyang, nestled in Nuwakot, will serve as its central point, enhancing connectivity and accessibility for the communities along its route.

The government aims to establish 10 model cities along the mid-hill highway to address migration issues. These cities include Phidim, Basantapur, Khurkot, Baireni Galchhi, Dumre, Burtibang, Chaurjahari, Rakam, Sanfebagar, and Patan. The goal is to provide essential services like food, education, and healthcare, thereby curbing migration from hilly regions to the Terai.

Timeline about Madhya Pahadi Lokmarga

Date

Event

2009 Nov 9 Nepal Army initiates the opening of the track for the fast track.
2013 Mar 10 Nepal Army completes the opening of the track and hands it over to the government.
2015 Mar 13 Government decided to sign an agreement with the Indian company ILFS to prepare the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the fast track.
2015 Jul 31 ILFS completes the DPR, estimating travel time to be under an hour.
2016 Nov 20 KP Oli cabinet cancels the construction deal with ILFS due to cost concerns.
2016 Dec 22 Cabinet forms a panel to study and consult on fast track construction.
2017 Feb 20 Panel submits a report urging the government to run the project on its own investment.
2017 May 4 Prachand cabinet assigns the construction responsibility to Nepal Army.
2017 May 28 PM Prachanda lays the foundation stone for the fast track, expected to be completed in 4 years.
2017 June 13 Nepal Army begins field assessment.
2017 June 22 Deuba cabinet endorses the work procedure.
2017 Aug 11 Government officially hands over the project to Nepal Army.
2017 Sep 20 Nepal Army plans to amend the DPR to reduce the height of bridges.
2017 Dec 13 Nepal Army starts tree cutting in Nijgadh sector for the fast track.
2018 Jan 1 Army announces the expedited progress of the fast track.
2018 Jan 16 Nepal Army announces its plan to create its own DPR.
2018 Mar Residents protest against the fast track in Khokana, Karyabinayak, Lalitpur.
2018 May 25 Starting point consideration changes to Farsidole due to local obstruction.
2018 May 29 Government allocates a budget of about 15.4 billion for the upcoming fiscal year, totaling an estimated 111 billion for the project.
2018 Oct 2 Korean firm Soosung Engineering contracted to make a new DPR.
2019 Feb 4 Korean firm submits the final DPR to Nepal Army.
2019 Mar 15 Nepal Army completes track work on 54 km of the 76.2 km highway.
2019 Sep 28 Approved DPR becomes public, indicating Khokana as the starting point, a 72.5 km highway drivable in 1 hour 2 minutes, with a total investment of 175 billion.

Madhya Pahadi Lokmarga to bypass Capital to ease congestion

The proposed Mid-Hill Highway aims to alleviate traffic congestion in Kathmandu and on the Prithvi Highway by circumventing the capital. Instead of the previous plan, which passed through Kavre and Kathmandu before reaching Pokhara, the new route will traverse a more northerly path via Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, Dhading, Gorkha, and Lamjung to connect to Pokhara. There’s also a consideration to bypass Pokhara city by routing the highway along the northern side of Begnas Lake. Department of Roads officials are exploring these alternatives to optimize traffic flow and reduce congestion.

Five years ago, construction began on the Mid-Hill Highway, a major infrastructure project slated to stretch across the country from Chiyo Bhanjyang in Panchthar district to Jhulaghat in Baitadi district. The estimated cost of the project exceeds Rs 43 billion.

Recently, the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport approved a change in the highway’s alignment, particularly concerning its link to Pokhara. However, the government has yet to determine the exact length of the new route resulting from this change. This adjustment will lead the highway through three additional districts—Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, and Lamjung.

Originally conceived as a vital connection for hilly regions, the Mid-Hill Highway was designed to link 24 districts across 12 zones, serving nearly 7 million people. The completion of the original route is nearing its final stages, with only 3 kilometers remaining to be constructed in Jajarkot in the Western Section.