Driving uphill to Shimla or the Kasauli hills and nearby areas is not going to be a pleasure for motorists for the next few days as the district administration on Tuesday closed the Panchkula-Shimla stretch of the National Highway (NH) 22 to carry out demolitions in the main market in Kalka town.
Major traffic diversions have been made on the highway after the Punjab and Haryana High Court Monday directed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to start the demolition of the encroachments on NH 22 in Kalka town as per the directions of the Supreme Court.
The flattening of encroachments, built up over the years, will be done on NH 22 that passes through the busy Kalka market. The encroachments had made the highway congested leading to traffic jams on the Shimla route every day.
Kalka town is the main gateway to the Himachal Pradesh capital Shimla. It is about 25 km from Chandigarh.
"The entire road from Pinjore up to Parwanoo will be closed to traffic. The traffic coming from Chandigarh, Zirakpur and Ambala would be diverted to Kala Amb and Nahan for Shimla," Superintendent of Police, Panchkula, Amitabh Dhillon said.
The detour via Kala Amb-Nahan (in Himachal Pradesh) would mean an extra 100 km for motorists on a small state highway. The journey time on this route could be an extra two to three hours.
"Traffic coming from Shimla will be diverted to Nahan and Nalagarh from near Dharampur town. We have deployed sufficient personnel with NHAI officials for security and these diversions will stay till the demolition drive is over."
NHAI officials said the demolition drive could take a few days to pull down illegal structures and clear the road. The NHAI has sought to remove encroachments by nearly 250 shops.
Dhillon said police would be deployed at all the places on this stretch to ensure the smooth flow of traffic and to avoid any traffic jams.
Earlier in January this year, the NHAI planned to remove encroachments on both sides of the road to widen the NH 22 at Kalka but local shopkeepers and residents got a stay on this from the Supreme Court.
However, in March, the Supreme Court disposed off the petition and ordered that the NHAI could continue their demolition without damaging the original properties of the local people.
The NHAI has also been directed by the High Court to submit their status report at the earliest.