By PR Pradhan
The Nepal Army has aimed to complete the Kathmandu-Nijgadh Fast-Track Road within four years. The present government, following the previous KP Sharma Oli led government’s decision, has decided to construct the fast track road by itself. Earlier, the government led by SushilKoirala had decided to handover this project to an Indian party on BOT (build, operate and transfer) basis even by facilitating a soft loan and ensuring compensation if the company failed to get the revenue target. Such a controversial deal was strongly opposed by the public and finally, the Supreme Court gave the verdict to construct the project by the government itself. Past experiences show that India has never cooperated with Nepal openheartedly, specially developing infrastructure projects. In other words, India never wants to see infrastructural development in Nepal. As the government has identified this fast-track project as the project of national pride, some observers were suspicious the timely completion of this project if it was handed over to India! After the Supreme Court decision, the government was in confusion on which modality this project should be implemented. Ultimately, the government decided to give the responsibility to the Nepal Army. In fact, the Nepal Army has shown excellent performance in the past. Presently also, the Army is constructing some key roads including the road to Rasuwagadhi. Therefore, one can hope for the timely completion of the fast track road project. As we can see, many key projects have been delayed due to some ill intentions of the contractors, therefore, the Nepal Army should be further strengthened to construct other key projects. We hope, the Army will demonstrate its capability in constructing such a big and key project with Nepali skill.
Although, there is strong voice against the Army doing business in Nepal, this scribe believes that the Army should be allowed to do different businesses such as running a textile industry, a shoe factory, even a mobile/computer assembling factory as a large number of consumers are within the Army Force. In India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, among other countries also, the Army are running many industries. In Pakistan, the Army is running arms factory to brewery company producing beer. In Bangladesh, the Army is even running a five star hotel.
In fact, we had the National Construction Company Nepal (NCCN), a government undertaking, to work in infrastructural projects. Its headquarters was in Halchowk, currently, the headquarters of the Armed Police Force. NCCN, when it existed, had made remarkable contribution in infrastructural development. The Israel government had supported in establishment of the NCCN. If such government undertakings were functional at present, obviously, its efficiency would have been developed and big infrastructural projects would also be possible to be constructed by the Nepali construction company. Perhaps, there might be some liberal economists pleading to the government to not do business, even in India, even today such government undertakings are functional. The Tribhuvan International Airport has become congested and the aircrafts have to remain on hold in air upto one and a half hours. This is normal in TIA but how much fuel one aircraft has to throw in the sky and to what extent it contributes in polluting the climate, one can assume. The TIA expansion project has been delayed due to the ill-intention of the construction company. If we had empowered a government undertaking construction project, the TIA expansion project could be completed without delay.
It is unfortunate to say that along with the dawn of multiparty democracy in 1989, we saw demise of the NCCN.
Remembering NCCN days
By PR Pradhan