Gangtok, Dec 4 (UNI) The much awaited double laning project of Nathu La road is finally seeing the daylight with the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) giving clearance to Border Roads Organisation (BRO), the executioner.
With the clearance, which had been pending with the ministry since May, the BRO now can go ahead for double laning project of Nathu La road.
The ministerial clearance came at the backdrop when Defence Minister A K Anthony during a visit to Nathu La recently admitted that India was far behind from neighbouring China in making infrastructural facilites in this highly strategic border state.
The green singal for double laning was received here through the state forest department from the Shillong centre of MoEF.
The forest department informed they will be holding meeting with the BRO officials based in Gangtok as soon the formal letter arrives to ensure that guidelines were met during the upgradation works.
Commandant A K Dikshit of 758 Border Roads Task Force (BRTF) under Project Dantak, Sikkim, told UNI they were waiting for the letter and being prepared to start works immediately. ''We are ready to deposit around Rs.15-20 crore to forest department compensation on account of forest property being diverted for road purposes,'' he said.
The clearance is for first two phases as the whole project is divided in four phases with total cost around Rs 780 crore.
''We will begin with phase I, a road stretch of 27.2 km from Kyangsola to Sherthang Trade Mart,'' said Mr Dikshit. In phase two, the 5.6 km road stretch from Sherathang to Nathu La border will be taken.
After completion of the project, the present 51-km Gangtok-Nathu La Jawaharlal Nehru Marg will be extended to 61 km with three tunnels and 11 via-ducts. The project had been targeted for completion by March 2009.
Preliminary works had begun from the first week of May but was stopped in the same month due to lack of forest clearance. The delayed clearance had also generated apprehensions that the project may not be able to meet its deadline.
On the other hand, China had already laid a well pitched road right upto the Nathu La border. Sikkimese traders visiting Donqingang Trade Mart in the other side which around 21 km from the border have claimed that the road is world class and distance can be covered in 20 minutes.
Compared to this, the 5.6 km road from Sherathang Trade Mart to the border is single lane and the final portion is a dusty track.