The Himalayan state of Uttarakhand has been reeling under incessant rains for more than a week. Consequent landslides and flash floods have cut off villages as roads are blocked, and several rural areas are cut off from towns. In Pithoragarh too, heavy rainfall has disrupted the road connectivity in several parts of the district.
The All-Weather Road connecting Pithoragarh to Tanakpur was once considered as a boon for the region. However, the shoddy work has been exposed with the onset of the monsoon.
Even though a whopping amount of Rs 1, 100 crore was invested in the construction of All-Weather Road, the first spell of rains has created multiple danger zones on the 150-kilometre stretch. When the NH 125 was converted into an All-Weather Road, residents of the hilly district thought that it would ease the travel woes for them, however, just the opposite has happened. Thousands of passengers are facing inconvenience since the road has been blocked at multiple places.
The stretch was closed for around a week due to frequent landslides between Swalla and Chupkot. According to the executive engineer of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), HD Mathela, the All-Weather Road from Pithoragarh to Ghat was blocked at five places and from Ghat to Tanakpur at 15 places.
While the earthmover machines are working on clearing the stretch, it is being said travel on it will be safe only after the danger zones are treated. While the NHAI has identified 51 danger zones on the highway, the Tehri Hydro Development Corporation (THDC) has identified 14 such zones out of which two are said to be repaired. However, 12 danger zones are still present between Chupkot and Swalla.
The district magistrate of Pithoragarh Anand Swaroop said after receiving the survey report of THDC, it will be sent to the state government. Only when the government releases funds, the treatment of the danger zones will start.
According to some experts, the reason for the cracking of the highway is the random cutting of the mountains. The district disaster management officer Bhurendra Singh Mehar says the hill has been cut at 90 degrees angle due to which it is unable to bear the rainfall.
The data of the India Meteorological Department (IMD) states that out of the 13 districts in Uttarakhand, nine received excess rainfall between June 10 and June 16. Pithoragarh had received excess rainfall of 138%.