Darjeeling’s BJP MP Raju Bista has requested West Bengal’s PWD officials to expedite work on a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for National Highway-10 and submit the same at the earliest. The MP’s plea comes after Union Minister for Road, Transportation and Highways, Nitin Gadkari, informed him that work to overhaul the highway had been proposed under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP).

Mr Bista has also extended his gratitude to Mr Gadkari for taking due cognizance of the issues concerning the highway that he had raised and for taking necessary steps to address them. It may be noted here that Mr Bista had taken initiatives to strengthen the highway in the wake of a horrific accident on 31 January this year when a car plunged into the Teesta river that runs almost parallel to the highway, which links the Dooars area, Kalimpong and the neighbouring state of Sikkim with Siliguri.

Five persons of one family had lost their lives in that incident in January.

Mr Bista had informed Minister Gadkari on 4 February this year about the need to overhaul the NH10, including its expansion. “NH-10 is the lifeline of our border region, and connects Sikkim, Kalimpong, Darjeeling, and Western Dooars region to the rest of India via Siliguri.

This vital road has today become an accident hotspot with multiple accidents happening on a weekly basis. NH-10, which was originally constructed around 100 years ago and which runs on the bank of the river Teesta, hasn’t seen any major overhauling or expansion, because of which the road continues to remain narrow, congested and devoid of culverts or safety barricades towards the river,” Mr Bista had informed Mr Gadkari, while tabling some proposals and requesting his urgent intervention in preventing further loss of life on the highway.

According to Mr Bista, he received a letter on 7 June from Mr Gadkari, which said that the minister had “gotten the matter examined” and that a DPR for a major slope restoration and landslide mitigation was currently under preparation with the State PWD of West Bengal.

“The work has been proposed under the National Infrastructure Pipeline (NIP) and we have planned to award the work in the financial year 2021-22,” Mr Gadkari’s reply to Mr Bista’s letter read.

“Keeping in view the safety of road users, placement of more crash barriers shall be made out of ongoing works in the stretch to prevent falling of uncontrolled vehicles to Teesta river,” the minister has further stated, adding, “The Ministry has recently come up with a new policy of Incident Management Services, and henceforth all new NH projects shall invariably include provisions for Rescue Ambulance, Patrol Vehicle, Tow Away Crane etc. Accordingly, for all new projects to be sanctioned on NH-10, such provisions shall be included.”

“I am most grateful to Gadkari ji for prompt response and timely intervention. I also applaud the fact that despite the pandemic, the Ministry is working hard to take effective steps to ensure the safety and security of our people. Up-gradation of this road will be a huge boon for the people of Kalimpong, Darjeeling, Siliguri, Dooars, and Sikkim region for many of whom this is a lifeline,” the Darjeeling MP said.

“Therefore, I request West Bengal PWD officials to kindly expedite the Detailed Project Report (DPR) and submit it at the earliest, so that we can ensure no more loss of lives on NH-10,” he added.