Slow-paced work on Rohtang tunnel worries HP

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New Source: Tribune News Service

Fearing further delay in the completion of the Rohtang tunnel, the state government has urged the Centre to expedite the installation of a quarry plant at the north portal of the tunnel so that the project can be completed by 2019.

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The pace of work has slowed down considerably as the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest has delayed the permission to install the high-tech machine which will help throw out the excavated muck from inside the tunnel. The concreting of the tunnel can begin only after completing this task.

Chief Secretary VC Pharka has taken up the matter with the Union Ministry of Forest and Environment. “I have spoken to the Director General of the Ministry of Environment and Forest, SS Negi, requesting him to get the clearance expedited as this was delaying the completion of the Rohtang tunnel,” said Pharka. He added that the Principal Chief Conservator, Forests, (PCCF) had been asked to pursue the grant of an NOC with the Centre.
Ravi Thakur, legislator from the tribal district of Lahaul and Spiti, whose constituents stand to benefit from the completion of the tunnel has also taken up the matter with the Union Forest Secretary and other central agencies. “The panchayats of Koksar and Palchang have already been given the NOC and the Ministry of Environment and Forest is delaying the project,” said Ravi.

He lamented that despite the fact that there were hardly any trees or green cover in the area, the ministry was dilly-dallying in giving the NOC. He said the completion of the tunnel would benefit the people of Lahaul-Spiti and as such there should be no further delay.
The government is worried that in case of delay, the project could be pushed further, thereby leading to even substantial cost escalation.

The foundation stone of the project was laid in 2009 and the work had started two years later. The cost which was initially pegged at Rs 1,355 crore has now shot up to Rs 2,200 crore.

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