Shimla :Despite passing through Himachal Pradesh’s affluent and scenic apple belt the 80 km Theog-Hatkoti road has for the seventh year in a row held on to the unofficial title of the worst road in this hill state.
The entire road is uneven with deep potholes,and when vehicles pass by it turns into a dust bowl. With rain the dust turns into deep slush and the deep potholes into little ponds making it even more perilous to drive.
Accidents happen, breakdowns are frequent as they painfully make their way through a maze of potholes immediately bringing the vehicles to a grinding halt.
In fact the road is hardly a road.So it is a daily challenge to drive on this nightmare of a road. During the crowded apple harvest season traffic goes up from July to September goes up manifold. Trucks loaded with apple often clog this highway
So that instead of three hours it takes ten to twelve hours to complete the 80 km journey as traffic jams last for several hours .
And so people suffer and all the while everyone meekly accuses the state government of sleeping over the problem .
In 2007 through international bids, work to broaden the Theog-Hatkoti road was given to a Chinese company for Rs 228 crore.
Instead of working in small patches the Chinese public sector company dug up the entire road in a few months and then work came to standstill.
The company blamed the state government for not providing it dumping sites and forest clearances.
While the state government said the firm was finding excuses and being lazy . When the Chinese firm left in early 2013 less than 20 per cent of the project work was completed at a snail’s pace.
So again international bids were invited and last year the road broadening work was awarded to the Delhi based C & C company at a revised cost of Rs 303 crore.
Hopes were raised after years of suffering. But to everyone’s surprise not an inch of work has taken place in the last year.
Sources in the state secretariat said one reason why work did not progress was the state government took over six months to clear two stone crushers for this project.
Why so much time was taken has puzzled all sparking rumours about a powerful person wanting to set up these crushers.
There is also talk that the Delhi company carrying out the work wants the state government to enhance the amount and hence the delay.
But what has shocked the hill folk travelling on this road is that the state government has done very little to start work on this much delayed project.
The road project was to be completed in three years. But a year has already gone without any work.
The Theog-Hatkoti road is one of the important roads in the entire state. Running through the apple belt it carries 80 per cent of Himachal’s entire apple produce.
There is even talk by farmers to launch a stir outside the state secretariat and wake up the sleeping Himachal Pradesh government.
“C & C company has only carried out 4 per cent of the work in the last one year. At this rate the work will finish in 20 years while the scheduled period is only three years,” says Veer Prakash Baltoo, president of the Jai Bharat Gramin Vikas Samiti which is fighting for the completion of this long delayed road project.