DM meet to assess highway repair- April set as deadline

Kalimpong, Jan. 24: Darjeeling district magistrate (DM) Rajesh Pandey today called a meeting with officials of National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Border Roads Organisation (BRO) to discuss the delay in repairing the landslide-affected stretch of NH 31A at 27 Mile.

“At today’s meeting, we reviewed the progress in repair work on the NH 31A and have asked the NHPC and BRO officials to finish work by the end of April. I have also asked the subdivisional officer and the additional superintendent of police in Kalimpong to review the developments every fortnight,” said Pandey after the meeting concluded in Darjeeling in the evening.

The district administration is particularly worried about a new crack that has appeared 60 m from the affected site.

“We have asked the BRO officials to put up glow-signs ahead of the affected area to warn drivers along the route, especially at night,” Pandey added.

The NH 31A, which connects Siliguri to Sikkim, passes through Kalimpong and is a crucial link between the three places. A series of minor landslides, allegedly because of the NHPC project, damaged the road in July last year. By August traffic movement was severely affected.

The repairs on the road are supposed to be executed by the BRO and funded by the NHPC. The power major is engaged in constructing a dam at 27 Mile under Stage III of the Teesta Low Dam Project. According to residents here, the construction of the dam is the reason behind the increase in landslides in the region.

Following severe disruption of traffic on the route last year, a high-level meeting, chaired by urban development minister Asok Bhattacharya, was held on October 13 and it was then decided that the work will be completed by the end of November. Accordingly, BRO officials submitted an estimate of Rs 2.93 crore by the middle of November. Work on the site, however, could start only after NHPC released the first instalment of Rs 1 crore on January 17 this year.

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