NH-5 Fourlane: Former deputy mayor seeks CoI
Shimla, Aug 7
Former Deputy Mayor of Shimla, Tikender Singh Panwar, has called for a Commission of Inquiry to investigate alleged criminal negligence in the construction of the Kalka-Shimla NH-5 Fourlane. The frequent disruptions and losses caused by these road projects have had significant negative impacts on businesses, agriculture, consumers, and the livelihoods of people dependent on the hospitality industry.
Panwar highlighted that due to the roadblocks and disruptions, tourists are unable to visit even on weekends, causing economic hardships for those relying on tourism-related activities. Additionally, the transportation of off-season vegetables like tomatoes and Shimla Mirch, as well as apples, has been severely affected, leading to inflation and price increases for consumers.
Also read:Criminal complaint lodged as NHAI and associates blamed for natural disasters on Kalka to Shimla highway
Apple growers and farmers are suffering from low prices due to oversupply and exploitation by commission agents and intermediaries. Panwar suggests that a Commission of Inquiry be established under the Commission of Inquiry Act 1952, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge preferably from Himachal Pradesh. This commission would thoroughly examine the losses and failures of policy frameworks that have contributed to ongoing disasters in the state.
Panwar demanded accountability from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and urged for compensation for the damages caused. He criticized the construction methods used in projects like the Chandigarh to Shimla and Kiratpur to Manali four-lane highways, which have led to intermittent roadblocks. The construction practices, including vertical cutting and disturbance of water contours, have resulted in environmental damage and losses to biodiversity, particularly affecting districts like Solan, Shimla, Kinnaur, Kullu, Lahaul & Spiti – all vital fruit-producing areas.
Panwar also called for the criminal prosecution of NHAI officials and construction companies for their alleged negligence. He suggested the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to investigate the NHAI’s functioning and potential kickbacks to construction companies involved. Moreover, Panwar sought remedial measures and compensation for the affected hospitality industry, which has suffered from low bookings and economic losses. He proposed a compensation of around Rs 500 crore to the hospitality industry in Shimla and Kullu, including related ancillary units.
Panwar emphasized the need for a comprehensive investigation into the construction practices and policy failures that have led to recurring losses and disruptions in the state.
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