Stressing the need for expanding and improving intra-state connectivity, Governor, N N Vohra on Wednesday said that quality road network, especially in the rural areas, is crucial to the economic and social inclusion of a large percentage of population living in the difficult areas of the State.
“To support the rural economy, it is critical to ensure that road infrastructure is built and maintained in a manner which ensures all-weather connectivity and withstands the climatic vagaries,” Governor observed at a high-level meeting convened here this afternoon to review the progress of road projects in the State under the flagship Centrally Sponsored Scheme, Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Advisors to Governor BB Vyas and Khurshid Ahmed Ganai and Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam were present at the meeting.
Governor stressed that while formulating the road projects, the executing agencies must consider how climate resilient construction can be integrated into the planning of rural roads. “These connectivity projects will erase the geographical boundaries between people living in far-flung areas of the state and open up new vistas of social progress and economic prosperity,” he said and called for expediting the PMGSY projects and addressing the bottlenecks including forest clearances and land acquisition at the earliest in coordination with the concerned Departments.
To address the bottlenecks, it was decided that Principal Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department shall compile district-wise profiles regarding the hurdles being faced including delays due to land acquisition, forest clearances and shifting of utilities so that the same are addressed in a coordinated manner at the highest level in the Government.
Expressing serious concern over the mounting casualties in road accidents in the State, Governor stressed the need for improving the quality of the roads, especially in hilly areas.
Governor asked the executing agencies to urgently accelerate the pace of work so as to complete all the schemes on the targeted date without any loss of time or cost-overrun especially in the Kashmir valley, winters zones of Jammu and Leh/Kargil where the working season is very limited.
Commissioner Secretary PWD, Khurshid Ahmad Shah, made a detailed presentation about the progress of various road connectivity projects under PMGSY. He informed that under PMGSY, around 9000 kms of roads have been achieved. For the current year, the target is 2800 kms.
The meeting was informed that PMGSY is aimed at providing ‘new connectivity’ to the unconnected habitations, either through new roads or through up gradation of existing roads, where an intermediate link, even though present, cannot be used as an all-weather road.
The meeting was told that since the inception of the flagship programme, 3501 connectivity projects, including roads and bridges, have been taken up under PMGSY (Phase I to XII) in J&K at a cumulative cost of Rs 12800 crore. This involves construction/upgradation of around 20000 KM road length connecting around 3000 habitations. “Out of these 1613 schemes have been completed till date at a cost of Rs 4545 crores covering a road length of 9000 KMs spanning over 2212 habitations,” the meeting was informed.
Governor expressed serious concern over the fact that 2400 Kms of roads under Phase III-IX of PMGSY costing Rs 1500 crore are yet to be completed. He directed expediting all pending projects and stressed the need for PWD to make advance preparations so that J&K can secure a maximum number of road projects under PMGSY-II which is scheduled to be launched by the Government of India next year.
The meeting was informed that under Phase X-XII, for about 8000 Kms of roads, costing Rs 7000 crore, Government of India has not provided funds for land acquisition as was done for earlier Phases, which is to cost additional Rs 1700 crore. It was decided that PWD would complete 1000 Km roads of earlier Phases by October 2018 and the State Government would thereafter request the Government of India to provide funds for land acquisition.
Governor also reviewed the progress of road projects being executed under Central Road Fund (CRF), NABARD and other State Sector programmes.
Advisors B B Vyas and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai and Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam made various valuable suggestions on how to expedite road projects in the State and overcome physical and financial impediments.
Principal Secretary Finance, Navin K Choudhary, Principal Secretary Planning, Development & Monitoring, Rohit Kansal, Commissioner Secretary Revenue, Shahid Ananyatullah, Commissioner Secretary Forests, Saurabh Bhagat, Chief Engineers and other concerned officers were present in the meeting.