State transport minister GS Bali urged central road transport, highways & shipping minister Nitin Gadkari to include Himachal Pradesh within the purview of the 'Nirbhaya' scheme during his meeting with the latter on Wednesday at which they discussed various issues pertaining to road transport and highways in the state. Gadkari reportedly agreed to ease the scheme's norms to include the state and to undertake more specific projects under various road safety initiatives.
Bali said crash barriers, road warning signs and dedicated bus lanes on highways should be made mandatory in all road projects. He also urged Gadkari to consider funding, snow cutters, cranes and trauma centres under road safety besides providing financial assistance for setting up inspection and certification centres, drivers' training schools and fixing VTS on all public transport vehicles.
Bali requested Gadkari to ensure construction and upgrade of the Nagrota town bypass road in Kangra district. He also urged construction of rail overbridges on the Samloti-Sarotri road and NH-154 and on the Nagrota-Masal road on NH-154 and provision of wayside amenities for National Highway Kiratpur-Nerchowk four laning road near Bhaged.
Bali said there were four water bodies in Himachal -Govind Sagar in Bilaspur district, Pong Dam in Kangra district, Chamera Lake in Chamba district and Pandoh Lake in Mandi district He urged Gadkari to instruct the inland water authorities to provide water transport facilities in these water bodies.
A government spokesperson later said the central government had agreed in principle to provide financial assistance for setting up crash barriers and other facilities on national highways in Himachal.
"Gadkari is committed to provide more funding for Himachal Pradesh and providing at least one drivers' training school and inspection and certification centre in each assembly segment of state. On the Himachal government's request the central government has agreed in principle to construct bridges at various locations on national highways in Nagrota Bagwan and Ghumarwin constituencies," the spokesperson added.
Meanwhile, a violent clash erupted after the Youth Congress protesters began pelting stones on the BJP workers from the forested area opposite the party office. A window glass of the BJP party office was broken leaving several activists injured. Five people were admitted to the Indira Gandhi Medical College, of which two received injuries in the eyes. A senior BJP worker, Rajesh Sharda, was referred to PGI, Chandigarh.
Both the Youth Congress and the BJP later lodged complaints against each other while the police also filed FIR against both parties for stone pelting on a police party and damaging its vehicle. Shimla Additional Superintendent of Police BD Negi said the FIRs were filed after receiving the complaints from the BJP and Youth Congress. "The police have also filed a case against both sides as they attacked our force," he added.
"Activists of the Youth Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha started pelting stones on each other. When the police tried to disburse them, in between some unidentified people pelted stones on police vehicles," read the police complaint.