NHAI reluctant to take over Larji auto tunnel : CM

Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh today said that the Horseshoe shaped Larji- Auto Traffic Tunnel (2809.16 long X 10.5 M broad) dedicated to general public on NH-21 between Chandigarh-Manali on Aug 6, 2006, was ridden with seepage and leakage of water during rainy season. The National Highway Authority of India is reluctant to maintain it.

Mr. Singh gave this statement in the house today while responding to the call attention motion brought by Karan Singh (Banjar) under rule 62 in the assembly today.

This issue of handing over the Traffic Tunnel to NHAI by the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board at various level but national highway authority were reluctant to take over the tunnel.

The increase in seepage or leakage of water in tunnel during rainy season is a natural and normal process and cannot be avoided. The entire hill above it gets fully charged or saturated particularly during rainy season and excess water comes out through cracks or cervices.

The operation and maintenance of the tunnel requires regular incurring expenditure for which no budget is being made available by the government.

Chief Minister said that the state coffer was bearing the burden of the cost of operation, maintenance and security of the tunnel. It has spent around Rs. 125 lakhs during last five years from state resources on the tunnel.

HPSEB has now asked the government of India and Himahcal to hand over the tunnel to NHAI or HPPWD for its operation & maintenance as well security also.

There are hardly any chances of tunnel collapse due to the seepage. Mr. Singh said that the tunnel was constructed as per the approved drawings and specifications and is provided with 6 to 9 metres long rock anchor bolts both ways staggered and 50 mm thick shotcreting over the entire length.

Besides this, poor reaches of the tunnel have been provided with suitable support system i.e. steel ribs, R.C.S lagging and back filled with concrete as per the design and recommendations of geologists from the safety point of view.

Earlier raising the matter, Shri. Karan Singh had drawn the attention of state government towards recent large scale seepage in Larji Auto Kullu tunnel which may result into its collapse. He alleged that tunnel is in pathetic condition as there is no proper lighting inside it and darkness inside the tunnel can invite any mishap in the future.

Shri. Maheshwar Singh (Kullu-Himachal Lokhit Party) alleged that the tunnel does not have proper lighting and ventilation system. He said that government should also build alternate road besides this tunnel as the palanquin carrying gods and goddess cannot venture inside the tunnel.

He said that Rs. 44 crores that are lying with the NHAI on account of NH 21 should be diverted for the maintenance of the tunnel.

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