Vehicular movement has been affected on a strategic highway connecting the India-China border in North Sikkim after landslides and flooding washed away portions of the road, affecting movement of troops to forward areas.
The traffic on the Mangan-Chungthang road came to complete halt since last Saturday as torrential rains triggered flash floods and landslides in several parts of Sikkim, washing away portions of the strategic road near the Mangan police station and Lanthey Khola.
However, from Friday (June 3) morning, the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which maintains the highway, made some portions of the road operational. The road is, however, still out of bounds to heavy vehicles.
The early restoration of the only road link to the India-China border in the North Sikkim sector is crucial at a time of heightened tension between the two countries.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state president D B Chauhanhas sought an “emergency assistance” from the Centre to restore the crucial road link.
In a letter to DoNER (Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region) Minister Jitendra Singh, Chauhanhas said, “The highway connecting the India-China border in North Sikkim with the rest of the country had been cut off due to the landslides and bridges collapsed at many places. In view of the present situation, restoration of the highway and the border roads should be the topmost priority.”
The BRO is working on a war footing to rebuild the road, but rains are slowing down their progress. “Small landslides” are still active in many places, further hampering the work.
“We are conscious of the need to restore the road link on a priority basis, but the relentless rains are hampering our work. Boulders are continuing to fall, posing a threat to life and limbs. If the weather turns slightly favourable, we should be able to restore the link completely” said an official of the BRO.
After incessant downpour for the past six days, the rain stopped this morning. Further good news is that there is no prediction of rains for the next one week, except on June 5, in the area. This will help the BRO expedite the restoration work.
Scores of houses and many other roads in different parts of the state were also damaged by the flood and landslides. However, there has been no report of any loss of life from anywhere in the state.
The landslide had also caused severe damage to a dam of the NHPC’s Teesta Stage-V project.
(With inputs from Prakash Adhikari in Gangtok)