The Ministry of Finance has decided to allot Rs 500 million to pay compensation to landowners on the path of the proposed track that will resume the works on the long delayed task of acquiring land to upgrade and expand the Janakpur-Jayanagar railway and build a cross-border train link between Rani Sikiyahi and Biratnagar.
Out of the total amount, Rs 350 million will be given to the Department of Railway by transferring funds from other budget headings. The ministry would give the money to the Railway Department so that it can start distributing compensation to the landowners.
The department has been demanding Rs 1.25 billion for land acquisition. It has to acquire 220 hectares of land along the Jayanagar-Bijulpura stretch to upgrade the Janakpur-Jayanagar line from narrow gauge to broad gauge. The track will also be extended up to Bardibas which will be connected with Birgunj in the future under the East-West Electric Railway Project. Similarly, 112 hectares of land is needed to build the Rani Sikiyahi-Biratnagar railway line. This project is being carried out with a grant from India. India has set a target to bring the Rani Sikiyahi-Biratnagar link into operation by 2014. However, work on the Nepal side (13 km) has not moved ahead properly due to delays in providing compensation.
“We have released Rs 28 million but the Morang District Administration Office has not started distributing compensation in Biratnagar citing lack of funds,” said Ram Kumar Lamsal, director general of the Railway Department. He added that they need around Rs 700 million to buy land for the cross-border railway link in Biratnagar.
The government has allocated Rs 140 million (Rs 100 million to conduct a survey and Rs 40 million to buy land) for the Railway Department in the current budget.
The government plans to extend the railway to Bardibas, start construction of a link in Biratnagar, carry out a feasibility study for a metro railway or mass rapid system (underground and elevated railway) in Kathmandu and prepare detailed project reports (DPR) of different sections of the proposed east-west railway in the current fiscal year.
“The government’s railway plans as announced in the budget are not possible as there is no money,” said Lamsal. He added that DPRs of various sections of the proposed east-west electric railway were being prepared based on the Finance Ministry’s go-ahead, but there is no money coming to conduct the tasks.