Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane highway thrown open for traffic

By, Dharamshala
Aug 07, 2023 01:16 PM IST

The Kiratpur-Nerchowk section of the Kiratpur-Manali four lane highway has been opened on a trial basis, while a formal inauguration will be held later

The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) on Sunday opened the Kiratpur-Nerchowk section of Kiratpur-Manali four lane highway for all vehicular traffic.

Trucks plying on the Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane highway on Sunday. (HT File)
Trucks plying on the Kiratpur-Nerchowk four-lane highway on Sunday. (HT File)

The highway has been opened on a trial basis, while a formal inauguration will be held later.

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The stretch was thrown open for vehicles at 8 am on Sunday, with the two toll plazas at Garha Maura on Himachal-Punjab border and Baloh also being made operational, Bilaspur deputy commissioner Abid Hussain Sadiq said.

NHAI officials performed a religious ceremony at Garha Maura and Dehar before opening the highway.

The highway has been built on hybrid annuity (HAM) and engineering, procurement and construction (EPCD) models instead of built-operate-transport (BOT).

A 40% share of costs under the HAM and 100% under EPCD was borne by the NHAI.

Being constructed at a cost of 2,100 crore, the 87-km highway has five tunnels and 14 bridges. It is equipped with closed-circuit television cameras and Intelligent Traffic Management System (ITMS) and the maximum speed limit has been fixed at 60km/hour. The ITMS will automatically issue challan for speeding violations.

The Kiratpur-Nerchowk four lane stretch excludes the Sundernagar Bypass, which is likely to be completed soon. The Nerchowk-Pandoh stretch would also likely be completed by December 31 this year and Pandoh-Takoli by March 31 next year.

Notably, sections of the road between Takoli to Kullu and Kullu to Manali had been completed, but suffered heavy damages during July’s flash floods and landslides. A significant portion of it was completely washed away near Manali.

NHAI had earlier in May this year opened five tunnels built between Hanogi to Jhalog for traffic.

Launched in 2013, it was tipped as a major win for the region, one that would reduce the distance between Kiratpur to Manali to 197-km from the existing 232-km and cut the travel time between Manali and Chandigarh by three hours. The project missed its 2021 deadline and is now expected to be completed by 2024. However, the recent damages to the project due to floods may delay the construction work.

The four-laning project includes a total of 37 bridges, 14 tunnels, one elevated viaduct, and double-lane of 13-km highway stretch with slope protection, culverts, retaining walls, drainage and many other features.

Once complete, the NHAI claims that it will reduce the number of road accidents and ensure smooth flow of traffic. It is expected to save an estimated 900-1,000 crore per annum in fuel and maintenance cost, while also curtain environmental pollution.

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    Naresh K Thakur is a staff reporter in Hindustan Times’ Himachal bureau. Based at Dharamshala, he covers Tibetan affairs, local politics and environmental issues.

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