The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) will formally open one lane of the 5.4km Dalkhola bypass along the NH12 (formerly NH34) in North Dinajpur district for traffic — apart from goods vehicles — by the end of this month for the ease of residents and tourists.
Residents of Dalkhola in North Dinajpur district as well as other districts of the region had for long wanted the bypass, the work of which had started in 2017, to be open for traffic.
In Dalkhola, the NH12 passes through the town and a railway level crossing. As over 70 passenger trains move through Dalkhola every day, along with goods trains, the stretch of the highway is known for severe traffic congestion and people often have to spend hours to cross a stretch of around 5km.
“It has been decided that from March 21, one of the lanes of the bypass will be opened for traffic. Buses, light vehicles, ambulances and two-wheelers would be allowed to move on this route while goods vehicles will move through the old route (through Dalkhola town). We need to ready a bridge over a stream along the alignment. Once it is ready, the entire traffic would be diverted through the bypass,” said Sadab Ali, the project engineer of the NHAI’s Malda division.
The bypass will decongest Dalkhola town as it connects Purnia More (the junction of NH12 and NH27) on the northern end of the town, with Mithapur that is on the southern outskirts of Dalkhola.
“It would be a great relief for any person travelling by road through Dalkhola, the town that is known for regular traffic congestion. On a number of occasions, our buses take hours to cross the town. Also, if any vehicle gets stranded owing to technical glitches on the stretch, the situation only worsens. Opening the Dalkhola bypass was one of the key demands of transporters in north Bengal and finally, the wait seems to be over,” said Pradip Dutta, a transporter of Siliguri.
In north Bengal, most stretches of NH 12, the highway that connects the region with southern parts of the state including Calcutta, have been widened to a four-lane highway.
However, owing to land acquisition and some other issues, work of two bypasses — in Dalkhola and Islampur— got delayed.
Last year, the Islampur bypass was opened just ahead of the Assembly elections. Now, the Dalkhola bypass is also ready.
Residents of Dalkhola, who also had to bear the brunt of traffic congestion, also sounded relieved.
“We now hope that the entire stretch of the highway that moves through the town (Dalkhola) is thoroughly repaired once the bypass is opened. As vehicular load will reduce along this alignment, it will get easier for local residents like us to commute across the town,” said Subrata Sengupta, a schoolteacher in Dalkhola.