The Gelephu-Zhemgang highway is not stabilized after a landslide washed away about 200m of the road’s formation width at Ossey, which is about 24km away from Gelephu towards Zhemgang, on the evening of October 4.

The Department of Roads (DoR) had to deploy two excavators to clear the road on October 5. The road was closed to traffic for almost 24 hours.

DoR officials say that the same area remained closed to traffic for almost a week the last monsoon as the road’s formation width was washed away. DoR had to realign the road with about 50ms new formation cutting. “That new alignment was eroded this time,” an official from the DoR said.

Officials say that the area was prone to landslide, as the area has weathered rocks underneath, which breaks and gives in during heavy rainfall.

DoR’s chief executive engineer, CB Mongar said that the whole area is unstable and they are trying to keep the road open for traffic temporarily.

He also said that the department has to approach the works and human settlement ministry to conduct a soil study as a long-term solution. “We might have to change the road alignment if the areas continue eroding.”

DoR’s executive engineer, Sonam N Wangdi, said there are major cracks on the highway.

He said that there is settlement above the highway and portion of private land have also begun eroding.  “We’ve been scratching private cardamom orchards to align the highway.”

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang