The four lane highway from Chandigarh to Parwanoo to Solan to Shimla was completed in June 2021 at a cost of Rs. 748 crore, although some additional work, including the construction of viaduct bridges, was still underway.

In 2023 rains, the highway particularly the 39-km stretch of the Parwanoo-Solan section of the National Highway-5 has been reduced the to a risk zone with debris and boulders continually flowing down on to the road after every spell of rain.

The excavated slopes have been continuously eroding in the monsoon with several stretches of the road having been washed away at Chakki Mod, Datiyar, Sanwara, Jabli and Patta Mod, etc.

Though National Highways Authority of India have attributed the colossal damage to torrential rain and flashfloods, glaring structural defects can’t be overlooked.

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It was highway meant through destruction by destruction and for destruction.
There have been many reasons behind whey it happened which was bound to happen.

1. The cut and filling method was adopted to construct the highway, that got saturated with rains and it was saturation of water that led to this damage..

2. The slopes that were excavated had no effective drainage and that led to the seepage of water into the slopes. Moreover, there was an absence of effective drainage. To compound it, the weep holes in the retaining walls, that were constructed to drain out surface water, also added to the damage. Weep holes reduce the pressure of water on the retaining wall and add to the strength of the structure. They were not activated to allow proper seepage of surface water from the retaining walls.

3. A lot of other factors were not considered either. Hill slop angle , angle of repose have not been considered either. Key factors like angle of repose, the maximum slope (measured in degrees from the horizontal at which loose solid material will remain in place without sliding) has not been taken into acccount. Angle of repose adds to the stability of the slopes. Angle of repose has always to be considered while excavating a hill slope as any mistake in the angle will allow the slop to crumble easily, and angle of repose has not been considered. Deep cutting of hills have taken place without considering. These hill slopes are made of sedimentary and shale stones which are weak and they will continue to erode for the next several years.

4. The concrete structures erected along the slopes at some places have failed to remain intact. Cases of reinforced cement concrete walls crumbling at places like Saproon in Solan have put a question mark on the quality of engineering.

Had the rains been the only culprit, such events would have occurred before when the rains were really heavy. Heavy rains are a characteristic of the hills which occurs once in every 20-25 years.


It has been a faulty engineering that looks largely responsible for such damages.
There can be several suggestions given to tide over this crisis.

1. With climate change a reality, humans should not add to the problem, but make adequate changes in infrastructure planning to avert disasters that the Himachal has been witnessing since June. This needs mass awareness of the hill people as well as the incoming tourists. A massive exercise of perception and knowledge management needs to be done in a decentralised manner to ensure an awarensss army and a new age adaptation consent.

2. The Geological Survey of India is the nodal agency for landslide studies. It should be roped in for rectifying engineering blunders committed along this highway.

3. District level and even better block level weather forecasting has to be implemented as early as possible and all technologies available with us on short term weather forecasting need to be activated.

4. A new architecture is required to empower local communities over their assets. The losses faced in the forms of culverts, village drains, small bridges, schools, other social infrastructure must be compensated; and this can be done if the assets are insured and the custodians are local communities. This will help to rebuild the assets quicker..

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