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Infrastructure changing the face of Lumbini

Laxman Pokharel

Laxman Pokharel

Infrastructure changing the face of Lumbini

Photo: Gautam Buddha International Airport at Bhairahawa

Until seven years ago, it took almost an hour to get from one end of the 21-km Butwal-Bhairahawa road to another in a vehicle. The narrow, rough road tormented vehicles and passersby with dust. Now, the same road has been turned into a six-lane highway and the distance between Butwal and Bhairahawa can be covered in a maximum of 20 minutes.

This road, now named Butwal-Behaliya Trade Road, has reduced the travel time between Butwal and the Indian border to 30 minutes. Locals as well as travelers are amazed at the progress. The federal Minister for Culture and Civil Aviation Bhanubhakta Dhakal, who recently visited Butwal via Bhairahawa, could not hide his surprise as well. “So much has changed,” he said on the visit. “Looking at this road, we can say the country is developing.”

Like the Butwal-Belahiya Trade Road, the Bhairahawa-Lumbini road has changed its face too. Tourists coming to Lumbini used to be disappointed with the old cars, ramshackle trucks and rough roads in the area. No more. The road from Bhairahawa to Tilaurakot via Lumbini has been widened to four lanes. “Once these roads are completed, the face of local tourism will be transformed,” says Leela Giri, Lumbini’s Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment Minister.

Around Rs 100 billion is being spent on infrastructure, including roads, in Rupandehi district. The construction of Bhairahawa's Gautam Buddha Airport as well as projects under the Lumbini Development Fund’s masterplan including 5,000-capacity meeting hall, Butwal-Belahiya Road, Lumbini-Bhairahawa Road, Belwas-Bethari Road are in the final stages of completion. The International Conference Center in Butwal is the largest in the country, with more than half the work in the Rs 1.2 billion project now complete. A permanent exhibition venue is also being built with the meeting hall.

The construction work of Buddha Circuit has also been completed to make Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, accessible by road from all sides. Now visitors coming from the western side will reach Lumbini via Tilaurakot and Ramapur. From the east, an upgraded road also leads to Lumbini through a postal road. Agricultural produce can now be brought to markets easily. Farmers can reach markets of Butwal and Bhairahawa even on bicycles, carrying their agricultural produces. “Paved roads have greatly eased our lives,” says Ram Naresh Kurmi of Suryapura Chowk.

Butwal is a riverside city and its development as a river civilization has already started. After becoming finance minister for the second time, Bishnu Poudel had laid the foundation stone of the Tinau-Danav Corridor.

The roads to be constructed on either side of Tinau and Danav rivers will be connected to the Bhairahawa-Lumbini road. The long-term goal is to extend it to the Indian border. This six-lane road will link connecting roads in rural areas of Rupandehi and enhance the beauty of the Tinau River. Plans to build an arch bridge over the river are also being discussed. There is yet another plan to build a dam to create a reservoir for boating.