Nathu La double laning project delayed by 3 years

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Gangtok, May 7 (UNI) The Nathu La road double laning project scheduled to be completed by 2009 has been delayed by at least three years due to forest clearances bottlenecks, said Border Roads Organisation (BRO).

Work for the Rs 775 crore project had started from last year after a prolonged wait for forest clearances from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

''It is not possible in 2009. We are expecting the project to be upgraded by 2010,'' said Swastik project Chief Engineer Brigadier R K Patyal today at a press meet, organised on the sidelines of 48th Raising Day celebrations of BRO.

However, full upgradation of Nathu La road with three tunnels and two via-ducts is expected to be completed in 2012, said Patyal.

The double laning of the Nathu La road was originally planned to complete by 2009 in tune with the proposed declaration of Nathu La border trade as a free trade.

In this delay, overall costs will run 7 to 10 per cent more than the original estimate of Rs 775 crores even if the cost of steel and cement remains the same, said the Swastik chief.

Meanwhile, the revival of Swastik arm of BRO in Sikkim from March this year has seen a quantum jump in the allocation of annual funds for road maintenance and formation works along with manpower and machinery in the strategic Himalayan state.

Works worth Rs 217 crore have been planned to be executed for the year 2008-09 compared to Rs 81 crore for the last financial year, said Patyal. This works includes maintenance of NH 31 A, the life line of Sikkim.

A total of 922 kms of road are looked by Swastik in Sikkim and parts of West Bengal.

The Swastik chief informed that they have to spend Rs 74,000 for annual maintenance of every km of Scale I road and Rs 58,000 for Scale II road.

Apart from the Nathu La road double laning project, Swatsik is also handling the North Sikkim upgradation project. Proposals are on to declare North Sikkim highway as National Highway to speed up the upgradation works, said the Chief Engineer.

UNI BG KK SV HS1809

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