Shimla: Municipal Corporation Deputy Mayor Tikender Panwar on Tuesday urged the World Bank to fund green and other projects in Himachal Pradesh instead of providing money for widening/laying of four-laned roads. In a missive to the World Bank India Country Director Onno Ruhl, Panwar said: “Why cannot the bank, instead of widening roads and creating four-lanes, emphasise on a Himalayan rail network with a special fund of its kind?” He also sought a focus on vertical mobility through rope ways and cable cars to ensure public mobility in the Himalayan region with minimum environmental damage and cleaner forms of energy.
The response from Panwar, a Communist Party of India-Marxist state secretariat member, came a day after union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari concluded his two-day visit to the hill state. During his visit, the minister announced many new national highways and expansion of the existing highways in the state. He said lots of money flows from the World Bank into road and other infrastructure in South Asia, particularly Himachal Pradesh.
Justifying his rationale to oppose the construction of new highways, Panwar said that construction and widening of roads triggers large-scale landslides.Referring to the ongoing construction of the Theog-Hatkoti road with World Bank funds, he said: “After rain in the area, the entire dug-up earth flows into the nearby water channel and causes turbidity. It thus stops water supply from the Giri rivulet to Shimla.
And this continues to happen for years. Hence, a reorientation of the strategic paradigm is required.” Panwar said the municipal corporation released a greenhouse gas emissions inventory for Shimla recently, which was alarming. “The data screams for intervention and one of these has to be reducing vehicular emission at a rapid pace, or else the state capital will become more vulnerable and lesser livable,” he added. IANS
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