Work has started on a new highway between Malbazar and Sikkim that will not only reduce travel time by over an hour, it will also be less prone to disruptions caused by landslides. The new road constructed by National Highway & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is set to be completed by 2024.
The new alignment that will bypass the existing NH-10 and make its way through Jalpaiguri and Kalimpong districts via Oodlabari, Bagrakot, Chunabhati, Chuikhim, Lolegaon, Lava, Algarah, Pedong and Aritar before reaching Nathula via Gangtok will traverse around 150km, around 50km short of NH-10. While the road will be an alternative to the landlocked state that finds supplies disrupted when landslides occur during monsoon, it will also be of strategic importance to the Army to mobilise troops along the border if tension between India and China escalates. Nathula is a pass on the Indo-China border.
Eastern Command spokesperson Gp Capt Hooda said: “The development of national infrastructure and lines of communication in Sikkim will facilitate economic development, trade and tourism. The new road will provide faster movement of resources and better connectivity for locals and is in line with the border area infrastructure development undertaken by the armed forces.”Sources said a road already exists along the proposed alignment except for a 3km stretch between Chhagey and Aritar. While a road needs to be laid at this section to plug the gap, the rest of the stretch needs to be widened. The stretch of road from Kolbong-Chhagey to Aritar will pass through Khasmahal area without disturbing any forest areas. The road only needs to be widened. “The new road will also help businesses prosper in the region. Tourism industry will also get a massive boost,” said social activist Sujit Das of Oodlabari Science and Nature.
Source: Times of India