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First step in NH55 repair
- Paglajhora clear, funds nod for Tindharia

Siliguri, Dec. 7: The state public works department has said it has cleared the landslide debris at Paglajhora on NH55, the key road connecting Siliguri with Darjeeling.

However, for residents and tourists to use NH55, multiple landslip stretches at Tindharia would also have to be repaired. The PWD has said the Tindharia stretch would be cleared in early 2013 as the Centre had given the green light to restore the route and sanctioned funds for it.

The NH55, also known as the Hill Cart Road, has been closed since June 2010 when landslides hit Paglajhora and Tindharia in a span of a few days.

Repair work has been delayed because the two places were hit by frequent landslides and the Centre couldn’t firm up the type of repair to be taken up at Tindharia where the highway has been washed away at three places.

Although there had been different proposals on the kind of repairs to be undertaken at Tindharia, Union ministry of surface transport and highways has agreed to restore the road by building foundations.

Nirmal Mondal, the executive engineer of the PWD (NH division IX), said Rs 62 lakh released by the Union ministry of surface transport and highways had been utilised to restore NH55 at Paglajhora.

“The Centre has sanctioned Rs 88.77 crore to repair the road at Tindharia. We are just waiting for a technical approval from the Centre and once it reaches us, we will immediately invite tenders and the work will start by next year.”

Sources in the PWD said the tendering process would be completed in a month and the highway would be completely restored at Tindharia in another three months.

Tindharia is 30km from Siliguri and Paglajhora is further 5km uphill.

The highway had caved in at Tindharia at three spots. While one damaged stretch is 150-metres-long, the landslides created gaps at the other two spots for around 40m. “The 150-metre-long stretch has a depth of around 130 metres. Here, we will have to create a 130-metre-high foundation along the stretch and then, build the road above it. For the other two stretches also, 30-metre-high foundations will be constructed from the base of the hills,” said Mondal.

The PWD sources said the foundations would ensure the durability of the highway at Tindharia, which is prone to landslides.

Earlier, the highway had been built there by just levelling the hillside.