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As the apple season is at its peak in Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Thakur Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu asked the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to expedite the restoration works of National Highways damaged due to the torrential rains and landslides in the state.
While presiding over a meeting of senior officers of the NHAI Chief Minister said that the Mandi-Manali four-lane had immensely suffered damages, especially near Pandoh in Mandi.
He said that the onus lies upon the government to ensure the transportation of the apple produce to the markets well in time.
After the apple season, the potato crop will also be ready in Lahaul, therefore, immediate action was required for timely restoration of the National Highways so that farmers do not suffer for want of proper roads.
Sukhu also asked them to deploy extra manpower and officials at vulnerable points on this four-lane project to ensure acceleration in the restoration work.
He said that temporary refurbishment work should be completed by 15 October this year, before the world-famous Kullu Dussehra.
To address the issue permanently, a tunnel under Kainchi Maur in Mandi district can be planned in the times to come, he added.
The Chief Minister also emphasized on construction of three major tunnels in the state.
He said that Ghatasani-Shilh-Budhani-Bhubhu Jot tunnel should be constructed to connect Kangra with Kullu as this tunnel will not only help in tourism promotion but will also have strategic importance as it will shorten the distance between Kangra to Manali by 55 kilometers.
He also said that the Chowari-Chamba tunnel in Chamba district and a tunnel from Bhawa Valley to Pin Valley were of paramount importance to the state as these tunnels would provide all-weather connectivity to the areas besides boosting tourism activities in the regions.
The Chief Minister asked to speed up the construction work of the Shimla-Mataur four-lane project as it would benefit eight districts of the state.
He said that a specific road median as per norms or max five meters, should be ensured to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the road.
He said that the state government is promoting tourism in Himachal Pradesh in a big way and a target has been set to increase the number of tourists visiting the state to 5 crore per year and this four-lane project would be the backbone of the state.
The Chief Minister also took up the issue of the damaged Parwanoo-Solan four-lane and said that vertical cutting of slopes should be avoided to ensure better stabilization of the slopes. He said that NHAI should ensure proper disposal of water by constructing drainage and cross drainage on the highways. NHAI should expedite the restoration work of two bridges damaged in the Baddi area of Solan district due to floods as these are important for the industrial areas of Baddi, Barotiwala, and Nalagarh.
He stressed making the Nalagarh-Bharatgarh road as four lanes which would connect two National Highways adding that the entire Pathankot-Mandi National Highway stretch should be made four lanes in one go to avoid inconvenience to the commuters.