Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed Wednesday met the Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Nitin Gadkari, and discussed with him the issues relating to the improvement in the condition of National Highways in the State, especially the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, which has faced frequent closures due to bad weather in the last couple of months.
According to a statement issued to KNS, the Chief Minister also discussed the matter regarding delay in finalization of contract for four-lanning of National Highway 1A stretch between Ramban to Banihal, which is in an extremely bad shape. He also raised the issue of slow pace of work on Srinagar-Qazigund expressway, which is creating a lot of inconvenience to the people.
Mufti Sayeed emphasized that since the four-lanning of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway is bypassing major towns like Nagrota, Udhampur, Batote, Qazigund, Bijbehara and Pampore, arrangements for its regular maintenance have to be ensured.
Among others, the meeting was attended by Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, B. B. Vyas, Commissioner / Secretary, Public Works, Rohit Kansal, and Chief Engineers, R&B, Kashmir and Jammu.
From the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, Chief Engineer, P-I, A. K. Srivastava, and Chief General Manager (T), B. S. Singla attended the meeting.
It was given out in the meeting that the process of allotment of work will be speeded up. The project is being executed by the National Highway of India (NHAI).
The NHAI assured that arrangement with the contractor will be reviewed and the State Government will be informed about all aspects of maintenance of National Highways within a period of three weeks.
Referring to the pressing need of the State to improve road connectivity, the Chief Minister requested the Union Minister to declare Mughal Road as an alternate National Highway. He said till the four-lanning of the entire National Highway from Jammu to Srinagar is completed, which is going to take quite some time, the Mughal Road may be declared as an alternate National Highway. “Post-floods of September 2014 when the NHW IA broke down, the strategic Mughal Road proved to be the lifeline for supplies to Kashmir valley,” he added.
The Union Minister assured Mufti Sayeed that the request will be considered after a formal reference is made by the State Government to the Ministry of Road Transport.
The Chief Minister laid stress on construction of Chenani-Sudhmahadev-Khelani-Doda road, bypassing the Kud, Batote stretch, which is snowbound. However, he directed the Commissioner / Secretary to explore the possibility of realignment since some parts of Khelani and Pul Doda are vulnerable to landslides.
Mufti Sayeed also raised the issue of clearance of last year’s pending sanctions as well as sanctions for the current fiscal under CRF (Central Road Fund). It was given out that out of 32 works under CRF, 17 have been authorized till date. Commissioner / Secretary, Public Works, was directed to put Khanabal-Pahalgam Road, which is very important for annual Amarnath Yatra route and flow of tourists, on highest priority under CRF.
It was given out in the meeting that Rs. 480 crore worth projects under CRF have been sanctioned for J&K, out of which Rs.347 crore have been released. The meeting was assured that as soon as the UCs are conveyed to the Union Ministry, the balance amount of last year as well as fresh sanctions for the current year will be released.
The issues relating to maintenance and construction of roads under BRO, including Batote-Kishtwar-Sinthan Road (Old NH 1-B),release of maintenance funds for PMGSY roads and levying of toll tax were also discussed in detail.
To decongest the capital cities, proposal for construction of Circular Roads in Jammu and Srinagar also came up for discussion.
Mufti Sayeed also raised the issue of 6-lannibng of road from Batmaloo to Narbal. The Administrative department was asked to prepare a detailed project report in the matter. Six- lanning from Dalgate to Pantha Chowk also came under discussion for which the concerned department was directed to take up the matter with BRO for the portion under their jurisdiction.
The Chief Minister said the Government has taken several measures to remove the bottlenecks in the acquisition of land so that construction of all roads under Central sector are fast-tracked.