Infrastructure Development in Nepal: Opportunities and Challenges for Engineers Er. Tulasi Prasad Sitaula 1. Background Nepal is a developing country with its low per capita GDP of USD 320. Four-fifth of its land form comprises of hills and mountains and 80 percent of its population live in the rural areas. Thirty percent of the people live below the poverty line and 45 % of the population are unable to read and write. The rural areas lack minimum physical facilities. The major challenge for Government of Nepal is to provide adequate infrastructure to these remote and scattered settlements. Infra structure development in Nepal started during 1050. and until then Nepal had no infrastructure linkages to the rest of the world . Since then, the government has been making efforts to provide increased access to education, transportation, communication, health services, electricity and other infrastructure services. Despite these efforts Nepal remains one of the poorest countries with poverty reduction as the major challenge. One of the most dominant challenges of Nepal is to develop the basic infrastructures to accelerate its pace of development. For this, transportation plays a vital role in the overall development and socio-economic transformation of a country. In Nepal, road transport has predominant role because it is the only means for public transportation except the limited air service to some part of the country which is not affordable to common people. Therefore, Road infrastructure serves as a backbone for an overall socio-economic development of Nepal. Negligible length of Railways available in Nepal has diminished surprisingly in the last 4 decades. Janakpur Jainagar Railway which is a narrow gauge in poor condition is the only railway facility in Nepal . Since the overall development of Nepal is pivoted around Infrastructure development focussed at road transport and aimed at poverty reduction , Government of Nepal has its priority in this sub-sector. 2. Status of Road Development in Nepal Road development in Nepal started only after the advent of democracy in 1950. The first motorable road was constructed in the Kathmandu Valley by the then Rana rulers in 1924. The 42 km all weather gravel road between Amlekhganj to Bhimphedi was the first road of its kind constructed in 1929 outside the Kathmandu valley. The first long distance road to link Kathmandu with the Terai was taken up in 1953 with Indian assistance. This 115 km long road between Thankot (Kathmandu) and Bhainse(Makawanpur) was opened to traffic in 1956. The National Road Network comprises of National Highways, Feeder roads, Urban roads, District roads and Village roads. The National Highways together with the Feeder roads constitute the Strategic Road Network (SRN) of the country. The Strategic Road Network is the backbone of the National Road Network. The construction and maintenance of the strategic roads fall on the responsibility of the Department of Roads.
Thee district roads together with village roads constitutes the District Road Network. At present the National Road Network has altogether 24000 km (30% blacktop, 27% gravel and 43% earthen roads) in 2008. The strategic, urban and local roads share 32.5%, 13% and 54.5% respectively in the National Road Network. The Strategic Road Network serves as the backbone of the National Road Network. The strategic roads have high traffic volume in comparison to district roads. There are 15 National Highways and 51 Feeder roads totalling 8000 km in the Strategic Road Network. The government plans to increase the length of SRN to 12000 km by the year 2017. Local Road Network (LRN), comprises of District Roads, those urban roads not included in SRN, village roads, agriculture roads, mule trails and tracks, Trail Bridges, Ropeway etc. With the advent of Multiparty democracy in 1989, there has been a tremendous demand of constructing roads in rural areas. Though there are District Transport Master Plans...
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