THE FIRST few showers of the season, ushering in monsoon, have made a portion of the Kalka-Shimla stretch of the highway a perilous drive with a number of landslides being reported due to the ongoing road-widening work. Around 40-km stretch on the Kalka-Shimla highway, NH-22, between Parwanoo and Solan, has witnessed landslides at more than a dozen spots in the last 48 hours. Construction work on four-laning of the highway is on in full swing under the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI). With the rain hitting the region earlier than expected and the tourist season still at its peak, the district administration is on its toes to prevent any accident.
As a precaution, Solan police have deployed three patrol vehicles, two motorcycles and deployed a dozen police personnel to patrol the landslide-prone areas and are seen advising people not to park vehicles near the hills. However, a visit to the Parwanoo-Kumarhatti stretch in Solan district reveals that despite repeated appeals by the local administration, tourists park their vehicles in landslide-prone areas, take selfies and throng roadside eateries. At some points, traffic police personnel issue challans to force people to leave the area. Sudhir Sharma, a shopkeeper at Koti village, said, “Landslide occurred at three different locations between Parwanoo and Koti in the wee hours of Tuesday. The chances of landslide have increased owing to the construction work. We are also requesting commuters not to park their vehicles or stand close to the hills in the present circumstances.”
Yogesh Rawat, Manager (Technical), NHAI, said, “The chances of more landslides are very high in coming days. The entire stretch of the hills from Parwanoo to Kumarhatti is landslide prone. There are plans to apply bio-engineering methods, including installing iron nets to stop landsliding but this will happen only after completion of the four-lane project, which will take a long time.” Rawat added that the area from Kumarhatti to Solan was not prone to landslide compared to the Kumarhatti-Parwanoo stretch from where a road diverted to Barog. Solan SP Anjum Ara said, “We have deployed three patrol vehicles with the collaboration of NHAI and also started the challan drive against people, who deliberately do not leave the landslide-prone places despite repeated appeals. A dozen police personnel, including traffic police and general force, have been assigned the task of checking.” On June 2, a Ropar resident, Subhas Saini, was killed and two others were injured when their car got buried in a landslide at Dallaghat near the Solan bypass.