By Our Reporter
Construction of the 540 km Shigatse-Kerung railway began on Saturday. Due to difficult topography, it is estimated that it will take seven years to complete the project.
“China is now almost sure to connect Kerung, the northern border of Nepal, with railway, an official at Nepal’s Embassy in Beijing said.
The Tibetan government has been giving priority to build the railway but the project was delayed due to topographical difficulty. But now works to build the railway has begun, he said.
Many in Kathmandu think that it will be easy to connect Kathmandu with railway once the Chinese railway arrives in Kerung. However, that will not be an easy task as the route between Kerung and Kathmandu will probably most difficult to build railway. These people forget a fact that it has been over a century since India developed railway on the southern border of Nepal, but Nepal did nothing to build railway in Nepal. Except for the Jayanagar-Janakpur railway, Nepal has no rail services when the Indian trains pass through just a few kilometers away from Kakarbhitta, Biratnagar and Birgunj.
Even these bordering cities have no railway. But Kerung is 72 km away from Kathmandu whereas the distance between Rasuwagadhi and Kerung in 25 kilometres. Rasuwagadhi is the closest point in Nepal from Kerung.
Media reports have it that a high-level Chinese delegation is arriving in Kathmandu soon and experts have suggested seeking Chinese grants to build the railway with the delegation. However, China will connect Kathmandu when it is convinced that the Indian markets will remain safe for China.
It is also said that the railway will also be expanded to Mansarovar, which means it is not certain whether the rail first reaches Mansarovar before it arrives in Kerung.
A preliminary report on Kerung-Kathmandu railway was prepared a year ago in the support of China. Nepal and China also discussed the report twice.
Lhasa-based consul general Govinda Bahadur Karki said China had given priority to bring its railway up to Nepal border, but due to difficult topography, it will take time to build the railway.
’China has been seeking security guarantee, proper management of the soil that will be accumulated while making tunnels and in the issues relating to environment.
However, Chinese authorities have been saying that Nepal has not made the required preparations for bringing the Chinese railway in Nepal.