Gelephu-Assam Highway opens to traffic

With two JCBs, an excavator, a road roller and 10 tripper trucks deployed to reconstruct the washed away portion of the Gelephu-Assam highway on August 26, the road is now open to traffic.

Vehicles were allowed to ply since yesterday morning.

However, Gelephu thromde officials say it is a temporary road since it has just been filled with sand.

Thromde engineer, IP Phuyel, said that since the highway is an important route, they tried to reinstate the road at the soonest. “A temporary road was the best possible we could do for now,” he said.

The highway was closed to traffic following the flooding

He said that the reconstruction of the permanent road with blacktop would be carried out after monsoon.

The highway was washed away when the water reservoir below the Gelephu airport burst on the night of August 25. The water, however, did not enter the nearby settlement and flowed below the settlement towards the highway.

Explaining how the water reservoir burst, thromde’s site engineer Bhakti Ram Dhungana said that continues heavy rainfall on the night of August 25 led to the enormous collection of debris into the pond. “The debris clogged its outlet, which released controlled water downstream.”

He said that when the outlet got clogged, water overflowed the reservoir. “The water over flowed in three directions.”

The engineer also explained that when the accumulated water crossed the designed capacity of the pond, the four-meter high retaining wall broke. “That was where the water gushed out from.”

He said that if the water flowed at one go, the settlement below could have been affected.

The reservoir was constructed in 2015 to accumulate all major flash flood from the airport area so that it could release the water in a controlled manner.

Bhakti Ram said that this was the sixth time that the pond accumulated flash flood water. “All the previous five flash floods were easily soaked by the pond.”

The pond, which is almost the size of a football ground, can hold 38,000-meter cube of water. It was constructed at a cost of Nu 12M.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang

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