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Gadkari assures Himachal of Rs 400 crore package to fix highways, bridges damaged by monsoon fury

Union minister Gadkari accompanied HP CM Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu went to assess the aftermath of the disaster that ravaged Kullu district.

Shimla: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday assured Himachal Pradesh of a Rs 400 crore package for the restoration of highways and bridges that have been damaged due to the unprecedented rains and floods in the state.

The Union Minister for National Highways flew to Kullu-Manali with Chief Minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu to jointly assess losses in the aftermath of recent flash floods and rains.

The two leaders were accompanied by leader of opposition Jai Ram Thakur, on their visit to the flood ravaged areas including Bada Bhuiyan, Deodhar, Shirad, Klath, and Aloo ground Manali .They also interacted with the officials and affected families, who have suffered massive losses and faced miseries due to the flood fury in River Beas.

“The losses caused by the disaster due to torrential rains and floods are much more than I expected. The state has been plunged into major problems. Massive damage has been caused to the four-lane projects, NHs and other state roads. Several bridges have got washed away. Many bridges, parked vehicles—small and heavy, besides buildings have also been swept away,” he said.

Talking to media persons Gadkari said the central government will extend all possible help to the state and affected families. The people have suffered immensely and the situation was even worse than they would have imagined otherwise.

“ There has been unprecedented damage to the roads, bridges and private property due to flash floods, landslides and cloudbursts triggered by heavy rains” the minister said

The minister said Rs 400 crore will be released by the union government under Central Road & Infrastructure Fund (CRIF), so that repair and restoration works can be undertaken on war footing. The NHAI will also bear the cost of repairing the link roads up to one kilometer along the National Highways in apple belts, he added.

“ I will release Rs 80  crore immediately for starting the restoration works,” he assured.

Gadkari said huge portions of National Highways and other roads have been swept by the furious flow of the river and a technical team has been constituted to study probable causes and take measures to prevent such occurrences in the future.

The technical team comprising experts from IIT Mandi and Roorkee will visit the flood hit areas in three to four days to assess and take stock of the situation.

He said that due to the accumulation of muck in the river bed, the river changed its course. Adaptive measures will be taken to construct a concrete wall or channelize river beds wherever required.

He said that the Union Ministry will bear whatever money is to be incurred on the repair and restoration of roads under the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI).

Shimla-Chandigarh link snapped

Even as the state was trying to recover from the shocks of massive devastation due to the monsoon fury wreaked havoc, a 40-metre long stretch of National Highway no 5 collapsed abruptly snapping the road communication between Chandigarh and Shimla today.

Even as landslides were continuously taking place after the torrential rainfall and adversely impacting the movement of hundreds of vehicles, the landslide that happened at Chakki Mor has brought the traffic to a grinding halt.

Hundreds of vehicles got stranded on both sides of the NH between Parwanoo and Kumarhatti at Solan creating a major crisis in Himachal Pradesh –a state majorly dependent on road transport.

While long route buses and trucks are being sent from Kumarhatti to Chandigarh via Nahan, light vehicles have also been diverted to alternative routes via Kasauli and other areas.

But due to the closure of the main highway, a lot of damage has been done to the state ‘s economy including apple transportation and essential supplies to Shimla. Several petrol pumps in the town ran dry as diesel and petrol tankers did not reach here.

“Vehicles are stranded on both sides of the road and light vehicles coming from Chandigarh have been routed through Parwanoo-Kasauli-Jangushu Road–Kumarhatti while vehicles going from Solan would take Bhojnagar- Banasar-Kamli road” said SP Solan Gaurav Singh as the district police advised the travellers to adhere to the alternative traffic plan while the authorities work on clearing the debris.

The Shimla Police has routed traffic going from Shimla to Chandigarh via Theog-Sainj-Giripul-Oachghat- Kumarhatti-Sarahan-Kala Amb-Panchkula road while the traffic coming from Chandigarh would be routed via Dherowal- Nalagarh- Parsehar- Kunihar- Totu-Shimla for light vehicles.

The state has been the worst hit in North India as it has been witnessing landslides, flash floods due to heavy rains. Rain related incidents like flash floods, cloud bursts and landslides and road accidents have so far claimed 194 lives in the hill state while 34 are missing since the onset of monsoon on June 24, according to the State Disaster Management Authority .