In a move aimed at strengthening the road network in areas of the state that border China, the Himachal government has again requested the home affairs ministry to restore the old Hindustan-Tibet road that was built by the British in the 19th century to connect with Tibet for crossborder trade through the Shipkila pass. For the past three years the state government has been planning to revive old Hindustan Tibet road that was abandoned after construction of the National Highway 22 that stretches up to Kaurik in Kinnaur.
The treacherous highway runs parallel to the flood prone Sutlej river in Kinnaur district. The floods had been damaged the highway numerous times. Moreover the river's changing course leading to soil erosion had made NH22 more prone to landslides.
The government's decision to revive the old Hindustan-Tibet road will prove significant as it will come as another lifeline for scores of villages. "Plans are afoot to reconstruct the road and we are meeting home ministry officials to seek funds for the purpose," Narender Chauhan, additional chief secretary, public works department, told this reporter.
A delegation of PWD officials will hold consultations with ministry officials. The government is also seeking funds for the bypass connecting Leo to Chango.
The home affairs ministry provides funds to the state under the Border Area Development programme. Under the proposed plan the old Hindustan-Tibet road will be revived with realignment to have minimum river crisscrossing. The new 40 km road, which will be aligned along the old road, will bifurcate from the existing highway after the Wangtoo bridge and pass through Karcham, Peo, Pangi, Thopan , Rarang and Kirang Khad on the right bank before rejoining it. There were plans to construct at least a stretch of 15 km on the Old Hindustan-Tibet road.
The government had planned to revive the old Hindustan-Tibet road after landslides wreaked havoc in Kinnaur in 2013. Heavy rain and hailstorms caused immense damage to a 200 km stretch of the road. The state government had sought funds amounting to Rs 25 crore for the old Hindustan-Tibet road from the home ministry.
China's expanding infrastructure along borders in Himachal Pradesh has raised new security concerns for both - the state and central government. To meet the challenges the Himachal government is constructing 27 lateral roads close to the Sino-Indian border in Kinnaur district, where the state shares 214 km of its boundary with China. About 137 km of the border falls in Kinnaur district and 77 km in tribal Lahaul-Spiti district.