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Roads, tunnels construction in Himachal Pradesh
The Himachal state government is laying emphasis on the construction of roads and bridges. In an attempt to reduce distances and journey time, the state government has planned construction of a number of tunnels and highways.
ABOUT 17,000 villages of the Himachal Pradesh are scattered over hill ranges and valleys making it a challenging task to connect them by motorable roads. The importance of roads in connecting production areas with the market centres and its role in ensuring that the benefits of development percolates down to the person living at the lowest ebb, cannot be overlooked. Thus, the state government is laying special emphasis on the construction of roads and bridges in the state. In an attempt to reduce distances and journey time, the state government has planned construction of tunnels in various places in the state. Four tunnels are proposed for the state capital. The approximate cost of construction of these tunnels in Shimla is Rs310 crores. This will not only shorten the distance but will also help in environmental conservation.

Considered to be the lifeline of hilly and rugged topography, the network of roads in Himachal Pradesh play a pivotal role as a major and dominant means of communication. In the absence of other means of communication, the strong network of road has emerged as a leading mode of transportation

Thanks to the high priority which has been given by the state government to the road connectivity in Himachal Pradesh, today the total road length in the state has crossed the 30,000km mark. The government is endeavouring to connect all villages in the state by roads, by the end of this year. In fact, a perspective plan is underway to provide all-weather connectivity to all villages with a population of 250 in the State, by 2012. Over 2768km new motorable roads have been constructed in the state during the last one and a half years. Besides, cross drainage has been provided on 3647km of road and 1504 km of roads have been tarred, while annual surfacing has been completed on 2167km of road . As many as 532 villages in the state, have been provided road connectivity from January 1, 2008. Recently the landlocked Dodra-Kawar area in Shimla district was connected to the rest of the world by the commissioning of the 61km Larot-Kawar road.

A sum of Rs1280 crores has been spent by the state in the current financial year, on construction of roads and bridges under various schemes. Out of this amount, Rs479.60 crores was being spent under the state head, Rs400 crore has been spent under the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojna/World Bank projects, Rs 400 crore has been spent on state road projects  (on upgradation and periodical renewal of state highways and major district roads).

Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), is another ambitious scheme to connect the small areas with roads. The scheme envisages connecting all habitations (having a population over 250) with all-weather roads. Out of the Rs2146 crores sanctioned under the PMGSY, Rs1213 crores have already been spent on construction of the road and 2731 habitations have been provided with road connectivity. The Bharat Nirman Scheme has been framed by the union government with a view to upgrading existing roads and ensuring time-bound construction of new road projects. As many as 262 roads have been sanctioned under this scheme at a cost of Rs522 crore under the up-gradation component.

NABARD is another agency which has been funding various road projects. NABARD has funded 621 road projects and 186 bridge projects have been sanctioned so far for the State. Out of these, 256 road projects and 128 bridge projects have been completed. This is evident form the fact that during 2008-09, Rs 92 crore were spent and new projects worth of Rs 151 crores were got approved. A target of obtaining sanction to new projects worth Rs 300 crores has been fixed for the current year.

Apart from making journeys within the State safe and speedy, the state government is also endeavouring to make the state roads a commuter's delight. For this, the state government has introduced the concept of blooming highways. Under this scheme, trees and ornamental flower plantations are being planted along all major roads in the state. A target of three lakh plants, has been fixed for the current year.

Two new national highways have already been sanctioned by the state, thus taking the total number of national highways to nine. These two highways are the 91km-long Nagrota-Ranital-Dehra-Mubarkpur and the 160.5km Paonta-Rajban-Shillai-Menaues-Hatkoti. The state government has taken up the matter of sanctioning of three new national highways, with the government of India. In an attempt to provide world class road connectivity to the state capital, four-laning on the NH-22 from Parwanoo to Chambaghat, has been entrusted to NH A1.

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Rakesh Kumar Thakur
hi
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