‘The scene is ‘jheen’ (hazy) in comparison to ‘Cheen’ (China)’. This is often said by residents in the frontier district of Pithoragarh in the Kumaon Division, when it comes to road connectivity. On the one hand are the concerns on the Maoists activities, whereas on the other is the strategic preparations by China! …and in contrast the pace of our own preparations is at best tardy. The roads are such that in the times of need, transporting men and material could become unwieldy and cumbersome. This scenario portrays an aura of doubt and fear in contrast to the tranquility and charm of the scenic beautiful valleys of Pithoragarh.
The Ghat section on the Pithoragarh route comprising of zigzag roads on the top of tall mountain ranges is a case in point. This road often gets breached and gets subsided in the direction of the deep valley. According to a media report, neighbouring China has constructed a road till the mountain border up to Lhasa and has also connected the place by rail route serviced by trains with speed of one hundred kilometres per hour. ….and we could not provide transport resources to our own frontiers.
In Pithoragarh, a proposal hanging fire since the times of undivided Uttar Pradesh is that of a multi-purpose (civil and military) airstrip at Naini Saini. Presently, some extension work is going on, but there are no chances of the work getting over in the next couple of years. The road taken (Almora via Danya) to Pithoragarh is the principal route connecting to the state capital. As of now, there appear no immediate plans for revamping the road. The only respite has come following the commencement of construction of a four lane road beyond Tanakpur up to the international boundary (Tibet border), in which work is in progress in the Dharchulah–Tawaghat section.
Above Tawaghat, the Lipulekh Pass, the principal road route connecting the border is still termed as inaccessible. This is especially when this region is in sharp focus of the state and the Central governments every year during the religious tourism of Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Its strategic importance is also not hidden. Here, the road has the maximum traffic and this is also the principal route. This road is termed as better than the rest of them all. When this road is termed as the better one out of the available lot, the condition of others can only be imagined.
Roads in the rugged terrains are in need of immediate revamp, especially in areas bordering China, such as Gunji, Raunkag, Nabi, Napalchu, Nabidhang, Lipulekh, Kalapani, Garbyag and Boondi in Pithoragarh district. The state government has already fixed the target of connecting all the villages of Pithoragarh district by road by 2013, especially the Dharchulah–Tawaghat section. The various agencies involved in the task of project implementation, monitoring and evaluation must expedite the various road infrastructure works in the region. This is important not only from the view of development of these strategically sensitive border areas, but also in terms of the security of the state as well as of the country.