Kalimpong, Dec. 11: The permanent repair work on the damaged portion of NH 31A at 27th Mile here is yet to start, as the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) authorities have not released the required fund though the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) have submitted the estimate.
In their defence, NHPC officials said the delay in the release of the funds was because the BRO, which will execute the work, submitted the estimate in the third week of November. The BRO has put forward a revised estimate of Rs 2.93 crore for the work. “We have sent the estimate to our corporate office, and the funds should be released within the next two weeks,” said S. Khatua, chief engineer, Teesta Low Dam Project, Stage III, Rambi. Khatua said they wanted an assurance from the BRO to complete the work before the onset of monsoon, to which, an official of the road organisation said: “We can start work only after the power corporation releases the funds.”
The repair work was supposed to have started by the end of November and completed by April 2007, as decided at a high-level meeting chaired by urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya on October 13. The 50-m stretch of the highway was washed away in early August, following a landslide allegedly triggered by the NHPC construction project on the Teesta near Rambi.
Even as the central agencies blame each other for the delay, residents of the area fear that they will suffer the most. “After all, the NH 31A is the only highway connecting Siliguri to Sikkim and Kalimpong. Over the past one year, we have learnt that any disruption on the highway increases the cost of living in these parts,” said Neel Kamal Chhetri of the area.
The BRO will also build retention walls measuring from 50 metres below the road to 4 metres above.