I am very honored to be invited in this symposium and pleased to learn about N-JAA, Nepal JSPS Alumnai Association. Since the members of this association have already had post-doctoral research experience in Japan, I can see the scholarly role this community can play in Nepal. I am also happy to note that members of NJAA, as I am personally aware of, have already made meaningful contributions in their respective field of expertise to build a New Nepal. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to the organizer for this opportunity to be part of this important event.
I had been to Japan recently. Every time I have been there, the first thing that struck me is the world class infrastructure and services. The roads in Tokyo are clean; Japanese trains are known worldwide for their quality of services including punctualness. Bullet train was first introduced in Japan, which inspired other countries to follow. In my school days, we were taught about the devastation of Japan during the Second World War. It was quite amazing and inspirational too for developing countries to see Japan as one of the most advanced economy in the world. Japan is also a leader in technological innovation.
We know that rising up from the rubbles of War devastation was not an easy task. Japan is not endowed with natural resources rather is one of the countries with high vulnerability for natural disaster. All sections of Japanese society must work had to overcome these challenges. One of the strategies Japan followed is develop and utilize human resources. For this purpose education, research and innovation is most important. Here I can see the important role that an institution like Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS) must have played in building modern Japan. I am in particular very happy to note that this event is being sponsored and supported by JSPS. I think this is a valuable opportunity to learn and get inspired from Japanese researchers and scientists. Let me express my personal gratitude for the goodwill and generosity of Japan towards a developing country like Nepal.
I am also happy to note that the theme of today’s event ‘development of transport infrastructure in Nepal’ is very relevant both academically and practically. Given our diverse and difficult geographical terrains and vulnerable geological conditions, our engineers do not have a luxury of just following university text books or standard manual to resolve technical issues we confront in the process of building transport infrastructure. In recent years, loss of precious human life from road traffic accidents has remained as regular news in the newspapers. Just last weeks, we lost our former chief secretary and home minister in an unfortunate road accident. The following day, we have another sad news about public bus accident killing 20 peoples. There might be several factors responsible for such accident, but the poor road condition is obviously one of the major causes.
Japan has very similar terrain condition like ours; just about 15 percent of plain land, rest is hilly and mountain terrain. However, Japan is successful to build much safer roads even in hilly terrains. I am aware that this was possible only after big efforts made by Japanese engineers, researchers and scientists. They have been able to innovate special techniques and methods suited for local condition. Such as SABO, an indigenous Japanese technique for slope stability and land slide prevention, has significantly contributed to build safer and reliable roads. Here, our engineers and researchers can learn much from Japanese experience on such innovative techniques and methods.
I noticed that the technical session includes presentations from Japanese and Nepalese scholars on Tunnel technology. I am really impressed with the organizers for their thoughtfulness in choosing such a relevant sub-theme, the Tunneling. Though I do not have specialized knowledge on Tunnel Engineering, but as a student of Engineering, I can see the paramount role of tunnel science in building our infrastructure. All major infrastructure building works have to face, in one or other way, our difficult terrain. Roads, railway, hydropower or water supply projects need tunnels. But the tunnel engineering may need a bit advance knowledge beyond the conventional civil engineering. I believe Japan is a leader in tunnel engineering with valuable past experience on innovating techniques and institutionalizing them. I think we can learn much from Japanese experience in this area too. I am aware that first tunnel road project (Thankot tunnel) is under preparation with JICA assistance. I hope it will be successfully completed soon. In the process of building this tunnel, our engineers and experts will certainly enhance their technical know-how. NJAA and JSPS could be useful channel for promoting technology transfer related to tunnel engineering and other techniques for infrastructure techniques.
As a promoter of Naya Shakti (New Force) for building a prosperous Nepal within our own lifetime, I believe that development of transport infrastructure will play a decisive role in this historic mission. For this we will have to build a network of world class transport infrastructure along the East-West and North-South dimensions of the country. This will need latest technologies and technical manpower.
I wish that the event will run successful session and be successful in making contribution towards enhancing our knowledge in building transport infrastructure including tunnel engineering.
October 2, 2016.
- Baburam Bhattarai