10 modern cities to be established in mid-hills

The Ministry of Physical Planning and Works has stated that it will select locations for establishing 10 modern cities in all five development regions. It said that 20 potential locations would be identified having higher economic importance in the initial phase.

The government in the budget for the current fiscal year had announced developing 10 townships in the surrounding areas of the Mid-Hill Highway and north-south corridor roads under construction. Currently, the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction is doing final preparations to start the bidding work and select a consultant.

“The locations will be chosen in such a way that it will help develop the mid-hill sections of all five development regions,” said Mahendra Subba, deputy director general at the department. “Feasibility studies and detailed project reports (DPR) of at least one project related to basic infrastructure development in all the 10 cities will be completed within the current fiscal year.” Earlier, the DPR of the Mid-Hill Highway had underlined Phidim, Jarayotar, Bhojpur, Ghurmi area, Bhakundebeshi, Kurintar, Kusma, Burtibang, Rukumkot, Chaurjahari, Surkhet, Rakam, Sanfebagar, Dipayal and Patan of Baitadi as possible areas for establishing modern cities.

“We will concentrate more on existing settlements and the possibility of establishing them as modern cities than choosing individual settlements and locations having no possibilities for economic development,” said Subba. The ministry plans to get recommendation of 20 locations initially and finalise 10 locations after necessary discussions with the concerned stakeholders, the National Planning Commission and line ministries.

The 10 final locations might also include district headquarters or municipalities.

Suresh Prakash Acharya, joint secretary at the ministry, said that the locations would be selected based on the current situation of the locations, need of infrastructure development and economic importance. “It depends how the selected locations can help develop the area economically,” he added.

Establishing cities in the mid-hills with all modern facilities is intended to reduce the trend of migration from the mountains and hills to the Tarai and increase the possibility of developing hilly areas. Within the current fiscal year, the government will identify the locations and prepare an extensive strategic plan, according to the ministry.

A high level official at the ministry said that it would be impossible to work on developing townships in the mid-hills without the provision of voluntary land contribution and the government must also ban the sale of land as soon as the locations are identified. “If not planned well, the issue of land will be a major problem,” said the official. It is also estimated that most of the locations will be near or in existing cities, and they will be developed in a modern way later on. Officials also said that the cities would be developed at a distance of 150 km to 200 km from the Mid-Hill Highway.

“We can go for investment from the next fiscal year,” said Subba. “However, there might be problems for development of the basic physical infrastructure as we will need huge resources.”

source:The Kathmandu Post

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