Centre takes back custody of NH10 connecting West Bengal and Sikkim via Sevoke from PWD

Union minister of road transport and highways, Nitin Gadkari, is unhappy with the performance of the West Bengal PWD. (HT Photo)

By Pramod Giri, Hindustan Times

In what could be a setback for the West Bengal government, Nitin Gadkari, the union minister of road transport and highways on Friday announced to take back a portion of National Highway 10 being maintained by the state public works department. The 100-km road connecting West Bengal and Sikkim has strategic and military importance and is the lifeline for Sikkim.

The responsibility for this 52-km stretch that is being taken back was handed over to the state PWD only in June 2016.

Its maintenance will now be handed over to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

Sikkim that has no rail connections is critically dependent on this road that connects it with West Bengal. It is considered the lifeline of the state. (HT Photo)

The 52-km stretch of the NH 10 (formally known as NH 31A) is loctaed in West Bengal’s Darjeeling district and extends from the Coronation Bridge to Rangpo along West Bengal-Sikkim border. It was handed over to the state PWD only on June 7 2016 by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO). Till then the BRO had been maintaining it for last 47 years.

Gadkari, who is touring Sikkim since Thursday told the media on Friday that he was unhappy with the West Bengal PWD’s role in maintaining this road that is of strategic importance.

“I have ordered the takeover and we will sign the documents after going back to Delhi,” Gadkari said. There are problems in the state PWD in maintaining national highway connecting Sikkim, he said.

NHIDCL is fully owned by the union ministry of road transport & highways. The company promotes, surveys, establishes, designs, builds, operates, maintains and upgrades national highways and strategic roads including interconnecting roads in parts of the country which share international boundaries with neighbouring countries.

The road needs regular maintenance as landslides are common in this area, especially in the rainy season. (HT Photo)

Sikkim which has no rail connectivity shares its boundary with China, Nepal and Bhutan.

The 44-km-long stretch of NH10 that is inside Sikkim is still maintained by the BRO, though an agreement has already been reached to hand over that portion too to the NHIDCL

The NH 10 is the lifeline of Sikkim. It remains closed for some days during monsoon due to landslides.

Reacting to the decision to take back the maintenance of the stretch, Ajay Singh the executive engineer of West Bengal State PWD division 9 said, “I am not aware about the development.”

Aroop Biswas, the West Bengal PWD minister, was busy in a meeting.

The decision to hand over the maintenance of the 52-km-long stretch to the West Bengal government was taken by the Centre on April 9, 2015.


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