Courtesy: PR DEPTT, HP GOVT
The roads play a significant role in development, especially in hilly areas and open the gate of prosperity besides bringing about sea change in the social, cultural and economic life of the people. Roads are the main means of communication in pre-dominantly hill State of Himachal Pradesh.
In the past three years, about 2,426 km new road length was added, 4,900 km mettling and tarring was done besides construction of 241 bridges. About 285 villages were provided connectivity. In order to facilitate the rural people and those living in remote areas of the State, efforts were afoot to link all the panchayats by roads during next two years and all the left out 513 out of 3,037 panchayats of the State would be connected by motorable roads.
The Government would also spend about Rs 2,000 crore on construction of roads and bridges during the next two years which would further strengthen connectivity. The State Government has also speeded up on-going roads construction works and till now 196 projects worth Rs 264 crore have been sanctioned by NABARD (National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development) besides incurring expenditure of Rs 225 crore. A total of 807 projects involving expenditure of Rs 787 crore have also been sanctioned under PMGSY (Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana).
Himachal Pradesh Government has given top priority to this vital sector and created vast network of roads all over the State. The State has a network of about 25,600 km motorable road and 1 4,000 km tarred road length. In addition to about 1,200 km National Highways, the State has 4,500 km State Highways and major District Roads which link national highways to rural roads. No one can deny the fact that roads usher in a new era of development and progress even in the remotest parts of the State. The State has been also adjudged second in ‘Infrastructure building’ in a recent survey conducted by India Today, which further substantiates this fact.
The government has also decided to widen about 800 km of roads under proposed World Bank assistance and the detailed estimates of the roads being prepared by the consultant are Mehatpur-Una-Amb road, Una-Agahar Barsar-Jahu-Rewalsar-Mandi road, Ghumarwin-Sarkaghat-Jogindernagar road, Theog-Kotkhai- Rohru road, Kumarhatti-Sarahan-Nahan road. About 400 Km additional length of major roads will be selected for double laning after feasibility report is received from consultation, which includes Solan-Yashwantnagar Sainj road. In addition to this, Mubarkpur- Chintpurni Dehra Dharamshala road will also be widened to double lane, whereas double lane width is not available as of now. Portion from Dehra to Ranital, Kangra bypass, Mataur and Gaggal to Dharamsala have been sanctioned under Central Road Fund for widening and work has been awarded. The portion between Ranital to Kangra bypass junction, will be taken up under National Highway works and feasibility and preparation of detailed project reports for construction of Lathiyani bridge has also been assigned to the consultant.
The Government has posed more road projects valuing at over Rs 1,000 crore, including five major road upgradation projects, for World Bank funding to improve and strengthen the road network in the State. State Government had recently submitted a proposal of upgradation and maintenance of the state highways and major district roads and envisaged a World Bank loan of about Rs 1,000 crore. Similarly, some more main roads were also being proposed for World Bank funding so that the State could create best road communication network and facilitate smooth vehicular movement.
Proposal for boring important tunnels at different places in the State would also be posed for funding to the Bank which would not only reduce the distance by several kilometres but also add to the tourism promotion as well. The Garha Mora – Bilaspur traffic tunnel below Swarghat is being accorded top priority and would be beneficial in reduction of the road distance between Garha Mora and Bilaspur substantially, another important tunnel proposed is below Jalori pass in district Kullu connecting Banjar and Ani valleys with all weather connectivity. One more tunnel below Kharapatthar in Jubbal-Kotkhai area had also been proposed for construction to maintain all weather connectivity.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission would provide finances for the development of the capital town of Shimla and a Plan of Rs 1,500 crore was being prepared and to be sent for approval to the Government of India authorities. Three tunnels had been proposed in the town to ease the increasing traffic congestion and traffic jams and the tunnels would be more useful in the summer season when the traffic movement is at its peak with the large number of tourists visiting the State capital.
Remarkable progress has been made in construction of roads, express ways and tunnels. The Central Government has approved four laning of Zirakpur-Pinjore-Parwanoo- upto Solan road, which includes about 13 km length of Kalka bypass also, under National Highway Development Programme during the current financial year. It is likely to cost more than Rs 1,000 crore and project will be implemented by National Highway Authority of India for which land acquisition process is being initiated. Construction of Chandigarh-Baddi road to be constructed by Governments of Punjab and Haryana in their respective territories, has been approved by Ministry of Road Transport and Highways under Inter-State Connectivity Programme with a cost of about Rs 13 crore and the construction will be completed by October, 2007.
All these projects are expected to bring about marvelous results and would go a long way in further strengthening the existing infrastructure besides providing better road communication network to people.