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Mainstream, VOL LVI No 39 New Delhi September 15, 2018

Highways, Accidents, Landslides

Saturday 15 September 2018, by Bharat Dogra


The four-lane expansion of Parwanoo-Solan highway was supposed to curb traffic jams, reduce travel time and improve safety but it is time to ask whether the reverse of what was supposed to be achieved has actually occurred. The kind of landslides that are being seen now were never seen earlier. When looking at some of the landslide sites it appears as if a big disaster is just waiting to happen. Thousands of trees have been cut mercilessly. Local people say that the number is much higher than what is admitted officially. This felling of trees is the main cause of increase in landslides. Travel appears extremely unsafe due to increased landslides and the piles of huge stones and rubbles deposited here and there. The life of villagers has become very hazardous in high-risk zones.

The main reason for these problems is that the special cautions and planning needed for road construction and widening in the Himalayan region are ignored as there is a hurry to award contracts and make money. Hence there is avoidable ecological ruin and messed up projects. As a simple rule any project that involves felling thousands of trees in the Himalayan region should be taken up only after all possibilities of avoiding this loss have been carefully examined. If such a project is unavoidable, then very careful planning involving not just experts but also local people should be taken up to minimise the ecological loss. Due to neglect of such considerations and the craze for quick money, serious safety and ecological hazards are being created in the name of development works in most of the Himalayan region. In Uttarakhand the Raksha Sutra movement has been trying to save thousands of trees endangered in this way. More such initiatives are needed. Also we need to take care of people, particularly the poorer ones, who are displaced by highway expansion.

Bharat Dogra

C-27, Raksha Kunj

Paschim Vihar

New Delhi - 110 063

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