Tribune News Service
Solan, October 16
The inordinate delay in the repair of the Paonta-Shillai-Hatkoti road, which is considered the lifeline of the trans-Giri area of the Shillai and Renuka Ji Assembly constituencies, has made the life of villagers difficult.
The road is covered under the World Bank Green National Highways Corridor scheme for its widening but the tardy pace of completing formalities such as seeking forest clearance has become a cause for concern for local residents.
“A 45-metre stretch of the Paonta-Shillai-Hatkoti road at Katchi Dhang caves in during the monsoon every year. The road gets closed for a few days, forcing the villagers to travel through ill-maintained link roads. It is the lone link to the trans-Giri area connecting the region to major urban areas such as Paonta Sahib, Nahan, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Dehradun. It is also strategically significant, as it facilitates the transportation of apples from the Shimla belt,” says Prashant Sharma, a villager.
He adds, “To avoid a long detour, local villagers are forced to use the Giri river to commute even during the rains and this is happening for the past two years”.
Constructed in 1960s, this road was declared a national highway several years ago but it is yet to be widened; it continues to be a single lane road. “The government appears to be indifferent towards the woes of the villagers, as little has been done to check frequent landslides at Kachi Dhang. The road should be widened to ensure smooth flow of traffic. Its condition in the Kafota area is pitiable due to the lack of maintenance,” says Suresh, a villager.
“Though some patch work has been done, the condition of the road from Shillai to Kafota is bad. The road is narrow at several places and is prone to accidents because of sharp curves and the lack of maintenance. It is the only link to Shillai and whenever there is a landslide, people have to take a long detour through Vikas Nagar in Uttarakhand or other nearby areas,” says Kuldeep, another villager.
Officials say that the detailed project report (DPR) of the 104-km stretch of this road, which falls in Himachal, is being prepared. The cost of widening the road has been pegged at Rs 1,351.62 crore and tenders for the 95-km stretch from Paonta to Gumma will be awarded soon. The DPR of the Gumma to Feedus stretch is under preparation and land acquisition has begun though forest clearance is still awaited.
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