Mandi, September 5: The four-laning work on the 85-km-long stretch on the Chandigarh-Manali highway between Kiratpur and Nagchala is at a complete standstill.
The delay on the project will be harmful for the tourism industry of Kullu-Manali and farmers.
The residents of Mandi and Kullu districts are also feeling the pinch.
The people of both districts are concerned about the project. Due to the poor condition of the road, it was not only affecting the tourist footfall, but also the timely transportation of agriculture produce to distant markets.
Due to delay in the road project, the cost of construction has increased drastically and now the company, ITNL, is expressing helplessness in carrying out the work.
According to official sources, the company was facing financial crunch and payment of several contractors’ worth crores was stalled.
Ashok Thakur, vice-president of contractor association, Mandi, said the payment worth crores had been delayed by the company, which halted the work on the project between Kiratpur and Nagchala. He said around 40 contractors, who were engaged on this project, was waiting for their payment.
He said, “Due to a halt in the work, a large number of locals have lost livelihoods, who worked as labourers. We are waiting desperately for our payment from the company.”
Anup Thakur, president of the Hotelier Association, Kullu-Manali, said, “We wrote a letter to Union minister Nitin Gadkari and urged him to take necessary steps for the completion of the road,” he said.
Project Director, ITNL, Nishant Shrivastava blamed the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for it.
He said, “Due to indifferent attitude of the NHAI, this road project was delayed for two years. The NHAI had failed to acquire land.”
He said, “The project was awarded in 2012 to be constructed at a cost of Rs 1,500 crore till 2016. But due to delay, now the construction cost has increased to Rs 3,000 crore. We have given a notice to the NHAI to resolve the issue.”
Yogesh Chandra, Director, NHAI, declined to comment over it. However he confirmed that the construction work was completely stopped by company.
Source Tribune India