Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, July 21
Apple orchardists of Domehar and Jaltahar villages along the Theog-Hatkoti National Highway (No 705) are living on the edge as their orchards are facing threat of extinction due to apathy of the National Highway wing of the Public Works Department, which had failed to start restoration works before the onset of monsoon in spite of repeated reminders.
Construction of the retaining walls and breast walls in the sliding area was required immediately as the stretch has become highly prone to landslides due to widening of the road. The orchards have developed fissures as the restoration of roads damaged during winters is yet to commence while monsoon is active in the state, says Aman Chauhan, a local.
The affected orchardists are running from pillar to post to get the work started. Despite that Rs 2.37 crore were sanctioned in April this year for construction of retaining and breast walls, works have not started yet. As many as 19 letters have been exchanged between the government departments and the farmers since February 2019 till date.
â€œThis national highway is the lifeline of apple growers but frequent landslides due to inadequate protective walls are damaging the orchards and polluting the Giri river water as entire mud is flowing into the river. All this is happening due to sub-standard works done by contractorsâ€, said retired engineer RL Justa, resident of affected village, who has lurking fear in his mind that heavy rains can spell doom for his orchard.
Most of the retaining walls and breast walls constructed last year have collapsed and restoration works are yet to commence. The threat to orchards was increasing with each passing day. It is unfortunate that even after the residents meeting Additional Chief Secretary (Public works) thrice and Engineer-in-chief twice and other concerned officers, the works have not been awarded.
Raising questions over the functioning of the NH wing, Justa demanded probe into the functioning of the NH wing and said that both the companies did not complete the work. The unfinished and tardy work has become the bane of affected people.
â€œDuring the month of April, the work was not started as the model code of conduct was in force. Now we are awaiting implementation of directions given by the ACS to the NH wing on April 12, 2019 to award the works within 15 daysâ€, he said.
AN orchard along the highway.
Construction of retaining walls and breast walls in the sliding area was required immediately as the stretch has become highly prone to landslides due to widening of the road. The orchards have developed fissures as the restoration of roads damaged during winters is yet to commence while monsoon is active in the state. â€” Aman Chauhan, a local resident