Works on Gap Road stretch unlikely to be over before monsnon
The opening of the Kochi-Dhanushkodi National Highway (NH 85) may be delayed as works on the Gap Road stretch of the Munnar-Bodimettu section are unlikely to be completed before the northeast monsoon.
Though the second-level tarring of the 42-km Munnar-Bodimettu stretch is almost over, works on the landslip-hit Gap Road need more time, say revenue authorities.
Earlier, it was decided to open the road before March 15. However, the work on the Gap Road stretch was a challenge to the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) . There were three major landslips on the stretch on July 28 and October 8 in 2019 and on June 19, 2020 causing large-scale damage in the area. In the first two landslips, vast areas of farmland downhill were destroyed. The last landslip washed away nearly 200 metres of the road.
While the compensation for the damage to the farmlands had been settled, the work resumed only after the visit of an IIT expert team that suggested construction of a retaining wall and other safety measures.
There had been many bottlenecks since the works on NH 85 began in 2017. The works were to be completed so as to open the road in August 2019.
Several stretches of the road between Munnar and Bodimettu were hit by landslips in the 2018 floods. Heavy rainfall also caused damage to the road the following year. The pandemic outbreak also delayed the works.
In December 2020, the contractor was given six more months to complete the works.
Meanwhile, local people claimed the works on the Gap Road stretch were progressing only at a slow pace. If the works were not completed before the monsoon, there were chances of landslips and further delay in the opening of the stretch.
After the works on the Gap Road stretch began, Chinnakanal had been isolated as traffic on the stretch remained cancelled for long.
However, NHAI sources said the works on the stretch were progressing steadily and those on the other sections were nearing completion. The works on the Gap Road stretch were being undertaken adhering to safety standards. There would not be much delay in completing the works, they said.
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