Palampur, June 4
The 219-km strategic Pathankot-Mandi road-widening project, linking Pathankot with Leh, has been delayed by over three years due to lack of environmental clearance. Though the work on the first phase is going on, the remaining four phases are stuck due to the lack of green clearance.
Himachal Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu had recently met the Union Environment and Forest Minister regarding the issue, but the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) has not got the clearance so far.
Work allotted to Gurugram firm
The second phase of the project was awarded to a Gurugram-based firm, but the work couldn’t begin without an NOC from the Centre, HP Govt. —NHAI spokesman
Earlier, the NHAI had approved the construction of the first phase of the project between Pathankot (Kandwal) and 32 Miles in Kangra district after the Environment Ministry gave clearance in March 2022. The work on the first phase is in progress. However, no headway has been made on the remaining four phases covering 185 km. The state government has already released compensation to 90 per cent of the affected persons, between Pathankot and Palampur, for land acquisition. “Global bids for the second phase were floated by the NHAI last year and the construction work was awarded to a Gurugram-based company. As the construction is take place on forest land also, the work can’t begin without a no-objection certificate from the Centre and HP Government,” said an NHAI spokesman.
The project has strategic importance as it links Pathankot with Leh, Ladakh and other forward areas. Considering defence requirements, the Centre wants to complete it early.
The spokesman said the NHAI was focused on ensuring minimum cutting of hills, avoiding environmental degradation, avoiding inconvenience and dislocation of people residing along the highway. The distance between Pathankot and Mandi would be reduced from 219 km to 171 km when the four-lane road is completed.
NHAI project director Vikas Surjewala said all formalities had already been completed by the state government and the NHAI, forest and environmental clearances were likely to be given soon.
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