With China expanding its road network along the Indian border, Himachal Pradesh government has sought funds from the Centre for constructing three new border roads and reviving the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road, which connects border areas in Kinnaur district.
The state government recently submitted a proposal for constructing the roads. The plan, drawn by the state public works department (PWD), involves constructing and upgrading three roads connecting Thangi to Charang, Chitkul to Domdi and Charang Khudh to Kota Dogri.
The 20-kilometre Thangi-Charang road will be built at a cost of Rs5.45 crore. The 20.75-kilometre Chitkul-Domdi road will be constructed for Rs24 crore. Chitkul, the last village before the India-China border is known for its scenic beauty and high-quality apple production.
Meanwhile, the six-kilometre Charang Khudh-Kota Dogri is likely to cost Rs12.45 crore. Of these three roads, which have not been metalled so far, a stretch of road that has already been built will be upgraded. "The proposal had been sent to union home ministry for its sanction," a senior official of the PWD confirmed to Hindustan Times.
The PWD has also drawn a fresh proposal for reviving the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road, which was constructed by the British in the 19th century. The Himachal Pradesh government feels the urgency to revive the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road as it will provide all-weather connectivity to areas along the India-China border and will be an alternative to the New Hindustan-Tibet Road (National Highway-22), which is prone to landslides beyond Wangtoo in Kinnaur.
Floods and landslides in Kinnaur had caused extensive damage to roads across the district last year. Nearly 200 km of roads, including national highways and other lateral roads, were damaged. According to the fresh plans, the government has sought funds to the tune Rs25 crore for the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road from the home ministry. Plans are also afoot to the construct at least 15 kilometres of a new road stretch on the Old Hindustan-Tibet Road, while the road which is jeepable will be widened further to facilitate movement of heavy vehicles.
In the past five years, about 114 kilometres of new roads have been constructed in areas bordering China in Kinnaur and tribal Lahual and Spiti district. There are reports that China was rapidly developing its road networks along the Indian border in Kinnaur. It has also established a new military base close to the Indian border.