In a move aimed at strengthening the road network in areas bordering China in Kinnaur district, the Himachal government has drawn an ambitious plan to revive the strategic old Hindustan-Tibet road. The public works department has drawn up a detailed report on repairing the road that was abandoned after construction of NH 22 and the state government will now seek funds from the home affairs ministry for the `67 crore project.
According to the plan, the stretch of the road at Kunnu Charang (293 km), Mulling Nullah (18 km ) and Rarang Lipa (106 km) will be be repaired. For the past three years the state government has been planning to revive the old road that was abandoned after construction of the National Highway 22 that stretches up to Kaurik in Kinnaur.
The Hindustan-Tibet road was built by the British in the 19th century to connect with Tibet for crossborder trade through the Shipkila pass. The treacherous highway runs parallel to the flood prone Sutlej river in Kinnaur district. Over the years the road has been damaged by recurrent floods in the area. Moreover, the river's changing course leading to soil erosion had made NH22 more prone to landslides.
The government's decision to repair the old Hindustan-Tibet road is significant as it will come as another lifeline for scores of villages in the region besides speeding up movement of army vehicles in areas bordering China.
Under the proposed plan, the road will be revived by constructing a 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 are also plans to construct a new 15 km stretch on the 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 200 km of roads, including national highways. The state government had sought funds amounting to `25 crore for the project 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.