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'Strategic' NH10 closure costs Sikkim ₹100 crore daily

Sikkim, a border state with China, Nepal and Bhutan, relies heavily on this highway, and any disruption could have far-reaching consequences.

News Arena Network - Gangtok - UPDATED: July 8, 2024, 08:07 AM - 4 mins read

Sikkim's crucial NH10 suffers severe damage, impacting travel and supply routes in the region.

'Strategic' NH10 closure costs Sikkim ₹100 crore daily

Sikkim's crucial NH10 suffers severe damage, impacting travel and supply routes in the region.


The NH10, a critical lifeline for Sikkim and the hill regions of Darjeeling and Kalimpong, is presently facing severe disruption due to natural calamities, posing significant security and connectivity threats.

 

Sikkim, a border state with China, Nepal and Bhutan, relies heavily on this highway, and any disruption could have far-reaching consequences.

 

Concerns have been raised with the central government, emphasizing the critical importance of NH10 in maintaining connectivity and security in this strategically important region.

 

Proposals have been made to bring NH10 under central jurisdiction to strengthen this vital corridor and ensure its maintenance as a border road.

 

Since the disaster in Sikkim last October, the Teesta River's course has changed, widening significantly and causing repeated damage to the national highway.

 

This has exacerbated the frequency and severity of landslides along NH10, disrupting transportation and economic activities.

 

Speaking to the media persons, Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang (Golay) informed that he, along with Lok Sabha MP Indra Hang Subba and Rajya Sabha MP DT Lepcha, met with Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi.

 

The CM addressed various grievances related to the frequent landslides occurring between North Bengal and Sikkim.

 

Earlier this month, on July 2, Union Road, Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari directed the ministry to expedite the transfer of the NH10 stretch from Rangpo to Sevoke to the Central agency NHIDCL from the West Bengal Public Works Department.

 

This directive followed Gadkari's meeting with Darjeeling Lok Sabha MP Raju Bista in New Delhi on July 1.

 

The NH10, presently battered by monsoon rains and the flooding Teesta River, is crucial for Sikkim and Kalimpong district.

 

The Ranipool to Rangpo stretch in Sikkim is maintained by NHIDCL, while the Rangpo to Sevoke stretch falls under the West Bengal Public Works Department.

 

Today marks the 12th day of highway closure due to landslides in at least four locations.

 

Vehicles carrying essential commodities for Sikkim are forced to take a longer route via Lava in West Bengal, resulting in higher transportation costs and prices of vegetables and essentials. The detour has more than doubled the travel time to Sikkim.

 

The Chief Minister also reported that the state loses Rs 100 crore daily in SGST revenue due to road blockades, a significant loss for a small state like Sikkim.

 

Additionally, a survey conducted during the British Empire in 1917 proposed a train route from Bakhrikot to Rorathang, spanning 72 km. Implementing this could provide a robust means of transportation for Sikkim.

 

The establishment of multiple stations along the route would also benefit the West Bengal region, which suffers during the monsoon season.

 

The Chief Minister announced an upcoming bilateral meeting between the Transport Departments of West Bengal and Sikkim.

 

Sikkim’s Roads & Bridges Department Minister and Principal Secretary will attend to discuss and deliberate on common solutions for both regions. Sikkim has already handed over the NH10 stretch under its jurisdiction from Ranipool to Rangpo to NHIDCL.

 

"NH10 is crucial also in terms of national security. It facilitates the movement of security personnel and their equipment. The central government will give greater priority in its maintenance," said Lok Sabha MP Hang Subba.

 

Since the onset of monsoons, NH10 has faced frequent disruptions due to landslides and road subsidence, forcing people to take longer detours.

 

“NH10 is the lifeline for the border region of Kalimpong, Darjeeling, and Sikkim. Every day’s delay in repairing this road causes harassment to the people living in our region and damages our tourism industry, trade, and commerce. I assure the people that once NHIDCL takes over NH10 entirely, it will be better maintained, and along with others, the local citizens living along the Teesta River will greatly benefit,” said Darjeeling MP Raju Bista.

 

In Bengal, the highway runs along a hilly stretch of around 54 km, connecting Sevoke with Rangpo, the town in Sikkim located at the interstate border.

 

The highway then meanders towards Gangtok, the Sikkim capital. Near Teesta Bazar, it also passes through the outskirts of Kalimpong town.

 

Sikkim’s 204 km (approx) border with China’s TAR remains heavily disputed and unsettled, adding to the strategic importance of maintaining NH10.

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