Shimla, May 26 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh High Court on Thursday directed the union and state governments to take all possible steps to make the National Highway-5 fit for plying of vehicles, mainly in the remote Kinnaur district.
The court also sought a status report on the ongoing strengthening of the highway that ends close to the Chinese border.
A division bench of Chief Justice Mansoor Ahmad Mir and Justice Sandeep Sharma passed these orders on a petition file by Nirmal Chander Negi.
The petitioner said many hydroelectric projects have been set up along the highway, earlier known as National Highway-22, which had been damaged at several points due to unscientific construction.
Due to landslides, the highway has been damaged particularly in Urni and Thopan areas in Kinnaur.
He said the road stretch from Powari to Kaurik was handed over to the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) for maintenance due its strategic importance.
The BRO further entrusted the job to a private company in 2010, which was to completed the assigned work in 2013. But due to a dispute between the BRO and the company, the work had come to a halt, said the petitioner.
The highway — earlier known as the Hindustan-Tibet road — was laid by the British in the 19th century to connect India with Tibet for trade through the Shipki-La border post on the India-China border.
The treacherous highway, which connects the trans-Himalayan Buddhist area of Kinnaur and neighbouring Spiti to the rest of Himachal Pradesh, largely runs parallel to the mighty flood-prone Sutlej river in Kinnaur district.
It remains disrupted in a 100-km stretch from Wangtoo and Khab at one point or another owing to flooding of the river, say officials.
The highway ends at Sumdoh in Spiti sub-division, 330 km from here.