Slow pace of work on the roads leading to China border has seemingly irked the state government, as the funds allocated to the Border Road Organisation (BRO) are underutilised.
The work of widening the stretch between Kaurik and Wangtoo on the national highway connecting Ferozepur to Shipkila – a village close to China border in Kinnaur — has come to a standstill. Shiplki La Pass is used for the cross-border trade between two countries. The trade route was closed after the Chinese aggression in 1962, but was reopened for trade after India and China signed a protocol in 1994.
Central government in 2010 had allocated Rs 300 crore for widening the road from Wangtoo to Kaurik to BRO. But work came to a halt following a dispute between the BRO and the contractor to whom the work was allocated. The road widening should have been completed in 2013.
Vidhan Sabha deputy speaker Jagat Singh Negi told Hindustan Times, “Contractor is not working, the work progress otherwise on the road stretches on the national highway has been slow. The work cost has increased manifold.”
Negi, who represents the Tribal Kinnaur assembly segments, has been consistently raising the issues of road repairs with BRO. “Not once, but I have complained about slow progress on the roads to BRO numerous times. The issue was even raised with central government,’ he added.
Landslides and boulders falling on the roads in Kinnaur continue to raise concern for the government that had even engaged consultants to find solution to curb the frequent landslides on this stretch.
“As many as 100 vehicles have been damaged in the past three years due to the boulders falling in Pangi nullah. So, BRO should undertake the work on the war footing,” Negi said.
Similarly, the work on the road connecting Spiti-Sumdoh and Koksar is going on snail’s pace. Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police that mans the international border with China too have demanded speeding up of work on the national highway 5.
Himachal Pradesh shares 260 km of the porous border with China. Of the total border length, 140 km is along tribal Kinnaur district, while 80 km of border falls in tribal Lahaul and Spiti district. Three battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) are guarding the border with China. In total, there are 20 ITBP posts along the border. The sensitive post includes Kaurik – it’s the last village situated beyond Sumdoh.
Besides, the Himachal Pradesh government has also been demanding timely opening of vital passes like Rohtang, Kunzum and Baralacha that connect the state with the rest of the country. The control of these passes lies with the defence ministry’s Border Road Organization.