4-laning of Sgr-Jmu road unlikely to be completed on time
The much-hyped four- laning of 265 kilometre Jammu-Srinagar highway, which was already running behind the schedule, is unlikely to be completed any time soon.
Even though, the government has completed four-laning work from Jammu to Udhampur and are moving further forward from that side of the highway, the work from Kashmir side of the highway is going on at a snail pace.
Official sources said the construction of new Banihal-Qazigund tunnel is unlikely to be completed this year.
The project was started in 2011 to avoid frequent closure of Jawahar tunnel. However, major part of the project is yet to take off.
In 2011, National Highways Authority India (NHAI) commissioned construction of two tunnels — Chenani-Nashri and Qazigund- Banihal — to reduce the travel and make the highway motorable for all seasons.
In 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated 9-km Chenani-Nashri tunnel built at the cost of Rs 2,500 crore but 8.5 km Qazigund-Banihal tunnel is yet to see the new dawn of light.
Earlier, the authorities had claimed that the Qazigund-Banihal tunnel would be completed by June 2019.
But, now the authorities have set a new deadline to complete the project.
Two parallel tunnels between Quazigund to Banihal are being built by Indian infrastructure major Navayuga Engineering Co (NEC).
Similarly, according to Union government figures, the four-lanning of Srinagar-Banihal sanctioned in 2011 is delayed by 44 months.
Over the years, the cost of the project has escalated from an estimated Rs 1100 crores to 1216 crores.
The report reveals that only 72 percent widening work on Srinagar-Banihal road has been completed so far.
Similarly on Bijbehara Bypass out of 12.7 kms, the work on 10 km road has been completed while work on 3.34 km Awantipora stretch is yet to be completed.
The Jammu-Srinagar highway, which is the only link road connecting Kashmir with rest of India, often gets blocked during the winter and puts commuters to extreme hardships.
A portion of the highway often gets swept away and at many places, the road witness shooting stones and landslides.
Regional Officer Jammu Kashmir, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Hemraj said uncertain situation in Kashmir was the main reason behind non completion of work on Srinagar-Banihal side in a time bound manner.
“In the past few years, we never had an idle situation in Kashmir for a longer time to carry out the work without hindrance,” he said.
Hemraj said it was difficult to pursue outside companies to work in disruptive conditions.
“Since August 5 (when Government of India abrogated Article 370) hardly a work has been carried out on the highway,” he said.
“And we are consistently facing such situation since 2016 (when Burhan Wani was killed) .”
However, sources told RK that apart from the situation in Valley post August 5, the non-release of payments to the hired companies was the main reason for stoppage of four-laning work on the highway.
“In most part of 2019, the companies that are currently working on the highway had stopped their work over delay in release of their payments. It was only after government borrowed money from a bank that some payment has been paid to them now,” they said.