Tunnel work complete, 2 NHs by Dec; 2 more to be taken up this year

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Feb 27:The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) today held high level review of major projects in Jammu and Kashmir including prestigious and strategic Chenani-Nashri tunnel, Jammu-Srinagar and Batote Kishtwar National Highways and called upon the executing agencies to stick to deadline for completion of the projects.
NHAI chairman Yudhvir Singh Malik, who has been deputed to Jammu on a two-day visit by Union Road and Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, chaired meeting of top brass of the NHAI, accompanying him from New Delhi and Incharge ongoing projects in Jammu and Kashmir and reviewed progress of the projects, which were of very significant and national importance as Prime Minister Narendra Modi was schedule to inaugurate them.
The NHAI chairman also met Works Minister Naeem Akhter and Commissioner/ Secretary Works Rohit Kansal and discussed with them the State Government’s role in expediting work on the projects to ensure their deadline of completion.
Official sources told the Excelsior that after detailed inspection and round of whole 9.2 kilometers long tunnel, Malik directed some corrective measures of small nature and was reportedly satisfied with construction work. He would submit report to Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Union Road and Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari after which a schedule will be finalized for inauguration of the tunnel by Modi, Gadkari and MoS in PMO Dr Jitendra Singh.
“If everything goes well, the tunnel could be inaugurated in the middle or end of March,” sources said, adding the inauguration would, however, depend on availability of timing with the Prime Minister.
According to sources, security of Chenani-Nashri tunnel has turned out to be a major issue for which the NHAI has reportedly agreed to give funds to Udhampur police, which would construct check posts and barriers etc.
Sources said emergency works on Jammu-Srinagar and Batote-Kishtwar National Highway would be completed by the end of this year. The work were taking time in view of heavy rush of traffic on both the Highways, which gives very little time for carrying out works to the agencies especially at the place where the road was narrow.
The NHAI chairman is reported to have directed the Project officials and executing agencies to stick to the deadline and ensure completion of works on time. While Batote-Kishtwar National Highway repair work for which the Centre had recently released Rs 100 crores would be completed by December this year, work on Jammu-Srinagar Highway was also likely to be over this year.
Simultaneously, the NHAI has directed the agencies for expediting work on widening of National Highway between Udhampur to Chenani, Nashri to Ramban, Ramban to Banihal and Banihal to Qazigund. The widening work, which has been completed up to Udhampur, has been divided into four zones and taken up simultaneously for its early completion. All executing agencies, which have been assigned the work in zones, were been asked to stick to the deadlines, sources said.
On new National Highways of Batote-Doda via Sudh Mahadev and Jammu-Akhnoor, sources said Wadia Techno Engineering Consultants have been asked to submit Detailed Project Report (DPR) within six months while similar time for the same agency for new Batote-Doda Highway is 12 months.
Sources said the Consultants have been approached personally to cut the timing for preparation of DPR for Jammu-Akhnoor road from 12 months to six months in view of urgency due to heavy traffic jams on Akhnoor road. The Jammu-Akhnoor National Highway has to be extended right up to Poonch via Rajouri. A total amount of Rs 5100 crores has been earmarked for Jammu-Poonch National Highway via Akhnoor and Rajouri in the Prime Minister’s Development Plan (PMDP).
The NHAI chairman will return to New Delhi tomorrow morning after meeting Works Minister Naeem Akhter and Commissioner/Secretary Works Rohit Kansal. He will submit his report to the PMO and Road Surface and Transport Ministry on the projects of strategic importance in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources pointed out that the Central Government was very concerned about projects of strategic importance and has directed the NHAI and other executing agencies to ensure that they didn’t jump deadlines.