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regular-article-logo Thursday, 23 May 2024

More cash for new Sikkim highway

NH10, which connects Siliguri (Bengal) with Rangpo (Sikkim), is the principal highway to the Himalayan state

Our Correspondent Siliguri Published 10.02.23, 04:20 AM
Representational image

Representational image File picture

The Union ministry of road transport and highways has made a new allocation of Rs 380 crore for the construction and improvement of a stretch of NH717A, the alternative highway getting ready to connect the Himalayan state of Sikkim with the rest of the country.

As of now, NH10, which connects Siliguri (Bengal) with Rangpo (Sikkim), is the principal highway to the Himalayan state.

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For the past few years, the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is building an alternative highway — the 717A — from Bagrakote of Jalpaiguri district in Bengal to Sikkim capital Gangtok via Bengal’s Kalimpong district.

So far, around Rs 2,400 crore have been already sanctioned for the 166km highway by the Centre. On Wednesday, Union minister Nitin Gadkari announced a further allocation of Rs 380.54 crore for the construction and improvement of the existing road between Sikkim’s Ranipool and Pakyong into a two-lane road with a paved corridor.

In recent years, particularly after the standoff between Indian and Chinese troops at Doklam in 2017, the central government is putting impetus to improve road and rail infrastructure in Sikkim, which sits on the India-China border, for faster and smoother movement of the defence forces and equipment.

While work is in full swing to complete the ambitious Sevoke-Rangpo rail route by the end of this year, the construction of the alternative highway to the state, along with two other highways NH717B and NH510 to connect other strategic areas of Sikkim, is also in progress.

“NH717A or the alternative highway has been built along such a route where the chance of a landslide blocking the road is less. In NH10, disruption in transport movement because of landslides is common, especially during the monsoon months. The new road will also act as an alternative road to Kalimpong,” said a source.

Along with the new highways, the Centre has also allotted funds for repairing and widening the NH10.

“Also, initial tasks such as identification of land and alignment for the new road bridge over the Teesta near Sevoke Bazaar are going on. Once the bridge is ready, vehicles can use it to cross the river. From the proposed end of the bridge on the left bank of Teesta, Bagrakote is barely 10km to 15km away,” the source added.

As of now, vehicles ascend the hilly terrain and take the Coronation Bridge at Sevoke to cross the Teesta.

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