Chamling proposes alternative highway through Nepal or Bhutan

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Gangtok, Jul 20 (UNI) Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Chamling has proposed the construction of a trans-national alternative highway to ease out the landlocked state from its sole dependence on lifeline NH 31A.

Official sources said here today that the Chief Minister made the proposal of an alternative highway for Sikkim either through Nepal or Bhutan before Union Secretary of the Ministry of Transport Brahm Dutt yesterday.

Mr Dutt also discussed important issues pertaining to the construction of an alternative highway for Sikkim, the sources added.

Besides, the Union Secretary assured to look into the proposal and said he and his team of officials would find a solution to the transport problem, the sources said.

He suggested a team to be set up comprising officials from the PWD, BRO and Union Ministry of Surface Transport to work out the modalities for the new alignment of an alternative highway from eastern Sikkim via Bhutan.

Mr Dutt will also discuss the issue with the state Chief Secretary to finalise the alternate highway.

During the meeting, the Chief Minister stressed that Sikkim being a landlocked state, faced problems during political upheavals in the neighbouring states and frequent landslides during monsoons.

''The NH 31A is the lifeline of the state and its frequent closure causes heavy losses to the people of Sikkim,'' he stated.

The demand for an alternate highway for Sikkim has been pending for quite some time and officials were mulling ideas of an alternative highway running either on the opposite hill side of the existing NH 31 A or making a longer detour through other areas not prone to bandhs.

This is the first time that the demand for an alternate highway through the two neighbouring countries of Bhutan and Nepal has been officially approved by the Sikkim government though the Chief Minister had given hints about this possibility some months ago.

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