Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday announced the release of Rs 400 crore under the CRIF for the repair and restoration work in flood-hit Himachal Pradesh.
Terming the damage in the recent floods as colossal and unprecedented, Gadkari assured all possible help for restoration works. Besides restoration of four-lane roads and national highways, expenditure on restoration of damaged link roads and bridges on 1-km stretches would be borne by National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), the Union minister said.
The restoration work would also be covered under the Setu Bandhan programme under the Central Road and Infrastructure Fund (CRIF), according to the minister. Under the CRIF, the Union ministry allocates funds for the development and maintenance of state roads.
On Tuesday, Gadkari visited flood and landslide ravaged sites in Kullu and Manali, and interacted with victims of the floods. A large number of affected people also submitted their representation to him. He also did an aerial survey of the damage.
He was accompanied by Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu, Leader of the Opposition Jai Ram Thakur and state Public Works Minister Vikramaditya Singh.
Addressing media persons, Gadkari also said that technical aspects of the damage caused, including the course of rivers, and landslides, would be studied by teams of experts for finding immediate and long-term solutions to curb the recurrence of such a tragedy in future.
The chief minister has demanded Rs 220 crore for restoration of damaged roads and the immediate release of Rs 80 crore, Gadkari added.
"Due to piling up of muck in the river bed, the level of river rises and it changes its course. Adaptive measures will have to be taken for the channelisation of rivers by constructing strong concrete and stone walls by digging two to three metres deep," Gadkari said. It would help in flood control and control damage along the banks by swollen rivers. he added.
Landslides are a perpetual occurrence in Himachal Pradesh as the mountains are fragile, Gadkari said.
"To address the issue, a comprehensive study would be conducted and thereafter recommendations would be shared with the state government," he said.
Gadkari said the under-construction Kiratpur-Manali four-lane highway, on which expenditure of about Rs 8,000 crore has been incurred, would be restored and inaugurated within next three or four months.
He also announced that Rs 250 crore has been sanctioned for the Bijli Mahadev Ropeway and added that construction would be completed before this Independence Day.
Construction of Shahpur-Sihunta road at Rs 52 crore and Rangas-Bagchal-Mehre at road Rs 49 crore under CRIF has also been granted, Gadkari said.
Stressing that construction of tunnels is an alternative to cutting of hills and a solution to landslides, the minister said that construction of 68 tunnels with an outlay of Rs 12,500 crore has been planned for the state. Eleven of these have been completed, 27 are under construction and 30 are upcoming, he said.
Due to the construction of tunnels on Kiratpur-Manali road, traffic flow is being managed, otherwise it would have taken a long time as the old road was badly damaged, he said. Gadkari also said that construction of roads at a distance from the river banks was a good option but difficult topography and mountains make it difficult. He also advised people to avoid living close to the banks of the rivers.
Briefing Gadkari on the flood-related damages, Chief Minister Sukhu said the state had not seen such a tragedy in the past 50 years.
Kullu and Manali districts have faced maximum damage in the recent floods. A large number of roads and bridges of NHAI and PWD have been damaged in it.
So far, the state has suffered a loss of Rs 5,692 crores, which includes losses of Rs 1,962 crore to the PWD, since the onset of monsoon on June 24 (till July 31), as per the state emergency operation centre. However, the chief minister has claimed that the loss is around Rs 8,000 crores.
-With PTI Input