Government plans for Kathmandu Metro Railway

The impasse over the formation of a new government has stalled the feasibility study for a metro railway in the capital, an idea envisaged by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to address its traffic woes.

The concept of a metro railway in the capital was pushed forward by the MoF and it was all set to announce it along with the establishment of a Railway Department in the full-fledged budget of the fiscal year 2010/11. However, Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal’s resignation just ahead of the budget session has halted the homework for the metro.

However, the implementing agency, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works (MoPPW), had forwarded the proposal to do a feasibility study for the metro rail a few weeks ago to the MoF. “We’ve forwarded the proposal for the feasibility study to the MoF,” said Purna Chandra Kadariya, secretary at the MoPPW.

MoPPW officials say there hasn’t been any response from the MoF due to the delay in the formation of a new government and issuance of a full-fledged budget.

The MoPPW has sought a budget of Rs. 3 million for the feasibility study. As per a preliminary estimate, the metro railway network will link Maharajgunj with Lagankhel and Koteshwor with Kalanki with the tracks crossing somewhere around Thapathali or Tripureshwor, said an official at the MoPPW.

The MoPPW has planned to start a feasibility study and produce the report within this fiscal year. The report will recommend the type of model and system to adopt for building the metro rail.

“The feasibility report will decide whether to go for an underground or aboveground system,” said Tulasi Prasad Sitaula, joint secretary at the ministry. “We are at just the planning phase. The amount of funds required for the construction of a mega infrastructure project like this will only be ascertained after the report.”

Convenient mass transportation, reduction in traffic congestion, time saving means of transportation and an alternative mode of transportation for a city expanding by the day due to urbanization are some of the benefits the metro rail will provide.

Since the metro rail is an ambitious project that requires high investment compared to other transportation systems, the government has also started to look for potential donors. “We will leave no stone unturned to make this project happen,” said Kadariya.

He said that the government would seek financing support from international donor agencies such as the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, Saudi Fund for Development and OPEC Fund for International Development.

The government is also brainstorming to devise policies to address the issue of railways in the country. The MoPPW has already received the green signal to establish a Railway Department from the MoF, and the Ministry of General Administration has also been positive about supplying the needed government personnel for the proposed department.

“We have been lobbying with both the concerned ministries for the last three months to set up a separate department to deal with railway affairs,” said Sitaula. “If things go as planned, we will have three railways — Mechi-Mahakali Electric Railway, Kathmandu-Pokhara Electric Railway and the Metro Rail in the future besides the Nepal Railway which is in operation in Janakpur. Hence, a separate department is a must.” (Source : ekantipur)

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