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SOURCE: ET

The Nepal army has constructed a 550-metre patch on Dharchula-Chhangru bridle path. Two remote villages of Nepal – Tinkar (near Tibet border) and Chhangru (near Indian border) – are now connected to each other and with Dharchula headquarters. Two years ago, the road connecting these villages had been washed away and the villagers were using a path that passes through Dharchula and Sitapul (in Uttarakhand) to commute. The Nepal army completed the road in just four months.

People residing in Tinkar and Chhangru villages move to lower valleys from November to April and migrate to the upper reaches from May to October. Chhangru has 90 families living there and Tinkar 60, who are dependent on this path.

A bridle path of 85 km connected it to nearby areas, but two years ago, the roads were washed away during a landslide at Ghantibagar, 60 km from Dharchula. All human and animal movement on this stretch was completely stopped and the villagers had to use an Indian route to reach their villages. The entry points between India and Nepal were closed on March 23 this year due to the Covid-induced lockdown, leaving the villagers virtually stranded.

The tensions between the two countries related to boundary issues came to the fore in May after the Nepal government released a new map of Nepal, incorporating Indian territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limpiyadhura. In May, the Nepal authorities requested the Pithoragarh district administration to allow these villagers to use Indian roads and they were granted the permission, sources said. But this was an awkward situation for Nepal.

Four months ago, the Nepal government gave the task of constructing the road to its army due to tough topography of the region (construction along the Kali river was dangerous). Their army completed this 550-metre-long and 2-metre-wide path within four months. The cost of the project was Rs 1.08 crore, sources said. Sixty army personnel and 45 labourers were deployed to complete the task. One soldier even lost his life.

Nepal army has opened border outposts at Chhangru and Tinkar, but due to lack of road and bridle path, army personnel, ration and equipment were transported by air. Now after construction of this 550-metre patch, the army and villagers are using this route. Nepal has been trying to strengthen its road network as well as air connectivity in the border areas following tensions with India.