After opening the track for the Mailung-Syaphrubesi section of the shortest India-Nepal-China overland route, the Nepal Army has handed over the 17 km stretch to the government.
The Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport took over the road immediately after Defence Minister Ishwor Pokharel inaugurated the recently opened track amid a function on Sunday. The NA gave the section back to the Galchhi-Trishuli-Mailung-Syaphrubesi-Rasu-wagadhi project.
Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport Raghubir Mahaseth; Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Rabindra Adhikari; Chief of Army Staff Rajendra Chhetri; and Vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission Pushparaj Kandel also attended the inauguration ceremony.
The government initially had assigned the Army to construct a 7-km stretch. After the devastating earthquakes of 2015, the Cabinet decided to entrust the national defence force also with constructing another 10-km section of the Mailung-Syaphrubesi segment.
According to Major Sanjay KC, chief of the NA taskforce mobilised to construct the road section, Rs706.9 million was spent on the project. The ministry, which is upgrading the Galchhi-Mailung section, will now blacktop the road.
With the new track, the Galchhi-Trishuli-Mailung-Syaphrubesi route has become the shortest link to China from Kathmandu. The newly constructed track is 25 km shorter than the Kalikasthan-Dhunche-Syaphrubesi route.
According to The Kathmandu Post, the highway linking Nepal’s two immediate neighbours is 230 km long. The road starts at Thori in Parsa, passes through Bhandara in Chitwan and connects with Galchhi, Betrawati and Mailung before leading to Syaphrubesi.
The national pride project has been deemed as a strategic road network. The project was initiated following a five-month border blockade imposed by India in 2015, which made the government work on multiple links with the northern neighbour to ensure delivery of fuel and other essentials when supplies from the south are blocked. This road is key to implementing the Transit Transport Agreement signed between Nepal and China during Oli’s earlier visit to Beijing in 2016.
With the opening of the Mailung-Syaphrubesi road, drive from Kathmandu to Kerung in China will be of about 4 hours. The stretch from Galchhi in Dhading to Rasuwagadhi is 84 km. The distance from Galchhi to Kathmandu is 50 km.