The stage is set for building an all-weather highway linking the Himalayan state of Sikkim, which is now connected with the rest of India through National Highway (NH) 10 that is blocked for vehicles during the monsoon because of landslides.
The proposed 250 kilometre highway, which was approved by the Centre in 2015, is strategically important, especially in the wake of the Indian Army's 70-day standoff last year with Chinese military at Doklam near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.
A former bureaucrat of the state said that the 2017 standoff between the Indian and the Chinese armies at Doklam has again proved how strategically important Sikkim is for India.
"Hence, an alternative highway along the hilly terrains is essential for security purposes. Also, there are a number of landslide-prone stretches along NH10, which disrupt traffic, particularly during the monsoon. The alternative highway has been a longstanding demand of Sikkim residents," he said.
The National Highway and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) has been tasked with the construction, which will begin later this year. The new road will originate from NH31C near Bagrakote and end at Gangtok.
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