Rs 20K Cr Four lane devastation: NHAI & Grill company turn the table on NGT permission
Shimla, Aug 22
The National Highway Authority of India and Grill company responsible for four-lane construction between Parwanoo and Shimla have turned the table on National Green Tribunal for not granting them permission for a hill cutting beyond five meters now causing devastation tunes to Rs 20,000 Cr to newly constructed NH-5 & NH-3 four-lane in Himachal Pradesh.
The construction and planning issues regarding the Parwanoo-Shimla four-lane project have led to significant devastation and concerns. NHAI and the construction company have indicated that they sought permission for larger cutting but were allowed less by NGT. The impact of such decisions has caused ongoing landslides and threats to nearby areas.
It is worthwhile to mention that NHAI and Grill company has been accused by the Former Deputy Mayor Tikender Singh Panwar of criminal negligence for vertical cutting of hills between Parwanoo to Shimla as Panwar booked duo (NHAI and company) for unscientific hill cutting leading to caving in of four-lane along the hillside of Koushalya river. Panwar has accused the company of not having sufficient background and it was blamed for a 90-degree steep hill cutting allegedly causing the devastation on newly constructed NH-5.
However, later Balwinder Singh, Project Manager Grill Company stated before the team constituted by the Government of India to Investigate the major reasons for the collapse of the Parwanoo-Shimla four-lane that the cutting was not done as per the prescribed standards. He stated that company had sought permission for 45 meters construction however they were allowed to construct only 35 meters.
During the Investigation NHAI officers also stated that Parwanoo – Shimla four-lane is not even complete and yet it is collapsing continuously. The main reason for this is not getting permission for cutting under the prescribed standards as per the construction company.
The NHAI officials who are constantly being blamed for unscientific cutting of hills showed their inability that they could not construct the highway accordingly as they couldn’t disobey NGT directions.”
The argument presented by them and the documentation reflect that they are not solely responsible for the disaster as they were allowed to cut the hill zero to five meters at an angle of repose which was not prescribed standard as the angle of repose should have been between zero to 15 meter, maintained the duo before the Investigation team.
NHAI and Company said that four-lane roads and dividers were supposed to require 30 meters in width and 15 meters of cutting on the repose angle however NGT permitted the company to cut only 35 meters.
According to the experts, the Shivalik Hills are on the side of the four-lane. The entire hill is sedimentary loose strata. Also, due to the felling of trees, the soil have become completely loose. On the other hand, the world heritage Kalka-Shimla railway track is also under threat due to frequent landslides along the four-lane According to experts, if a new road is built somewhere in the hilly areas, then it takes 30 to 40 years for the soil to be paved again.
In such a situation, if concrete arrangements are not made on the highway, then the houses built on the side of the forelane will continue to be in danger in the coming years.
According to the rules, cutting from 45 to 55 meters is done in four-lane construction. However in this case, due to less cutting, now the hills are continuously caving in. The constant rains since last four months in the state further precipitated the soil erosion on the steep hills .
The NHAI said that the purpose of seeking permission for cutting 45 meters was that they had to cut 15 meters of the mountain in three steps, to be done at five meters each. Due to step cutting, there was less scope for soil sliding. Also, it could have had more grip. But now only five meter straight cutting was done. The result of this is that there is no place for the soil to stop and it is coming on the road.
Noteworthy that if the construction company’s claims are right the permission granted to the company proved disastrous now as due to straight cutting, these mountains are continuously caving in the form of massive landslides as there is no firm place in the mountain.
The construction done by the company on the tight rope and having less permitted expansion for cutting should not be proceeded ahead by the NHAI and Company and it should again present the case before NGT for its errors of judgment in the matter, this was stated by a former chief engineer of a hydro project to the writer
Union minister Nitin Gadkari while on his recent visit to Manali stated devastation caused to NH-3 and NH5 may be more than 20000Cr in the heavy rainfall. Gadkari has constituted an expert team comprising scientists from IIT Roorkee and IIT Mandi which recently visited the rain-ravaged or ruined four lanes between Kiratpur-Manali and Parwanoo and Shimla.
In the last month itself, the state’s economy has suffered a setback worth crores due to the closure of four lanes at Chakkimod for several days.
A State government functionaries on the condition of anonymity said that NGT didn’t allow cutting of Kummarhati-Nahan Highway beyond five meters as it was reluctant to permit green felling beyond five meters and the move was aimed to protect more and trees and vegetation has now proved disastrous on the background of devastating rain.
If we believe that whatever NHAI & Construction firm stated before the Investigation team is true, the issue seems to have gone from bad to worst due to an overdose of advocacy on the part of the environmental crusaders. It is worthwhile to mention here that advocacy on part of such nature crusaders has only have pressed people to the wall.
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Vishal Sarin, Editor