Nepali Highways

A Hazardous Strategy

The World Commission on Environment and Development in its celebrated report called for "economic growth that is forceful and at the same time socially and environmentally sustainable." But how can this general principle be turned into concrete objectives so that the Commission's work is more than a new chapter in the long history of development rhetoric? Road building in Nepal provides an interesting case study.

Of all development activities, roads probably have the most impact in socioeconomic terms. But is the building of roads and market integration the panacea against decreasing living standards and over exploitation of resources? Several studies indicate that it is not. In the late 1970s, a British team concluded that roads in the Nepali context might even be counter productive.

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Himal Southasian