Impact of Beni to Muktinath road


With the construction of the Beni-Jomsom road that is 83 km, trekkers, as well as the locals, are quiet skeptical as to how it will affect the tourism industry there, as well as the local lives in days to come. Trekkers, however, are worried saying that it has lost its charm and destroyed its uniqueness. The changes have been quiet gripping. After getting off the plane at Jomsom airport, one is greeted, not by the mules like before but, by waiting vehicles. The vehicular movement has made the area more polluted, as well as many small business holders, like small tea shops, have closed down depriving man of employment.

A jeep ride from Jomsom to Muktinath is 20 km and costs Nepali rupees 300-350. It takes around two hours, whereas on bike it costs around Nepali rupees 1200 for the same. At present, there are around 8-9 jeeps that conduct rides from Jomsom to Muktinath. Similarly, Jomsom to Ghasa, which is the route further down towards Pokhara from Jomsom and a 35km path, can be reached in a few hours. Before, the same route used to take a day or two to travel. There are around 20 jeeps plying on this route.

It is because of this change that visitors who used to come to this area and spend 10-14 days now have decreased their stay to 2 days. The locals have been very overwhelmed by the road completion as the cost of bringing commodities in the area have decreased by more than half. In the sector of health issues, we have seen an immediate impact as locals can get to the regional hospital in just 2 hours while in the past it used to take 8-10 hours. Commodities that used to cost Rs.5 has reduced to Rs.2, so the cumulative affect is positive. Seen from the viewpoint of a tourist, however, it is not an good idea, and many have showed discontent on the recent development. Some of them are so annoyed by the road construction that they have vowed ever not to return.

However, with a positive note that there is still a silver lining, people do still want to see the mountains. To tap the market, there is an urgent need of an alternate track for the trekkers who want to enjoy the originality of the place with no vehicles and pollution, as tourists want to have a pleasant time on their holidays.