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Four-lane hope for two highways

Siliguri, Oct. 10: North Bengal development minister Gautam Deb today said the state government would broaden two highways to four lanes near Siliguri after the Pujas.

“Considering the higher rate of traffic on NH31 and NH55 around Siliguri and increase in the volume of vehicles every year, it has been decided to expand certain stretches of these two highways to avert congestion,” Deb said after a meeting with officials of the public works department (NH division), NHAI, Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority, the municipal corporation and his own department at his office today.

“These days, traffic congestion, particularly on NH31 surrounding the city, is a regular affair, which inconveniences thousands of people.”

He said: “The state PWD, which takes care of both the highways, will expand and develop two stretches — the Bagdogra-Salugara stretch of NH31 and the Darjeeling More-Sukna stretch on NH55. These would be four-lane roads with appropriate beautification done on the sides.”

Right now, the highway stretches are two-lane. The NH31 is a four-lane stretch where it is under the east-west Corridor.

According to Deb, the PWD would provide funds for both the projects and will do a detailed land survey after Durga Puja.

“PWD officials have been instructed to carry out the survey and obtain information like the land required for the expansion, land available with the government, major junctions where other roads meet the highways, the population dwelling beside the stretches and individual land holdings,” he said.

“These are the basic details required for the execution of any road project,” the minister said.

“Once we have the survey reports, we will be in a position to understand how much land is needed to be acquired. It would be done in due course.”

The important junctions, identified on both the stretches, are Darjeeling More, Khaprail More, Champasari More, Bhaktinagar More, Bihar More and Medical More on NH31 and Darjeeling More and Panchnoi on NH55.

“To prepare the detailed project report for each of the sites, the state government, either PWD or the north Bengal development department, will spend Rs 10 lakh for each location. Darjeeling More being the junction of both highways, a gate will be constructed to welcome visitors and tourists,” Deb said.

At the meeting, Deb also took stock of the state of the NH31C and NH31D, two highways that are in a deplorable condition.

“NHAI officials have told us that they are doing their best to repair major stretches of NH31D ahead of Durga Puja. Work is complete in some portions while it is on in some other stretches,” Deb said.

“Regarding NH31C, the state PWD has taken a similar initiative and carrying out repair on a war footing,” he added.

For roads within Siliguri, which are under SMC or SJDA, the officials have been instructed to continue repair work. “Sporadic rainfall is affecting repairs across the region. Nevertheless, repairs are on across the town,” the minister said.

Deb also spoke of another development.

“We have been asking for the construction of a parallel bridge across the Teesta from Sevoke Bazaar to the Dooars, as the Coronation Bridge is 70 years old now. The volume of traffic has increased and it is necessary to preserve this heritage structure,” Deb said.

“It has been learnt that the Union ministry of surface transport and highways has instructed the state PWD to survey the sites, prepare a project report and submit it to them. We consider it as a major development for the commencement of the project.”