Centre approves Rs 3382.66 cr for 4 laning Udhampur-Banihal stretch

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Jan 21: In a major boost to expedite work on four laning of Udhampur-Banihal stretch of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today approved Rs 3382.66 crores for widening the highway, reduce distance, provide all weather movement, check frequent jams and closure of certain stretches during snowfall and Monsoon, which triggered landslides.
The CCEA, which met in New Delhi under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved Rs 1758.68 crores for Udhampur-Ramban section and Rs 1623.98 crores for Ramban-Banihal stretch, official sources told the Excelsior.
They said Udhampur-Ramban stretch of the highway would be reduced to 40.07 kilometers only excluding Chenani to Nashri tunnel, which is being constructed under separate sub project while distance of Ramban-Banihal stretch would be 32.10 kilometers.
Jammu-Srinagar National Highway-IA now has been re-designated as NH-44.
The widening of Jammu-Udhampur stretch of National Highway is already on and would be completed shortly. Recently, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) has opened Nandni tunnels for traffic further reducing the distance between Jammu and Udhampur.
Sources said the approval of Rs 3382.66 crores for vital stretch of Jammu-Srinagar National Highway between Udhampur to Banihal would lead to fast tracking work on the landslide zone of the highway. It was mainly this portion of the highway at Samroli, Nashri, Ramban and Banihal, which was closed due to snowfalls and rains, which trigger landslides.
During September 2013 floods and rains, the Highway had remained closed for about 10 days.
“The four laning of the highway would not only shorten the travel from Jammu to Srinagar but also provide all weather connectivity as it would be designed in such a way that there were no landslides even during heavy rains and snowfall,’’ sources said.
They added that the work will be under the National Highways Development Project (NHDP), Phase-II.
The cost of the project would include land acquisition, resettlement and rehabilitation and other pre-construction activities.
“The main objective of the project is to expedite implementation of six-sub projects in Jammu and Kashmir under NHDP Phase-II.
Sources said the project has been approved in Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) mode.  The Surface Transport Ministry headed by Nitin Gadkari has divided four-laning project of entire highway into six sub-projects including Srinagar-Banihal, Qazigund-Banihal, Banihal-Ramban, Ramban-Udhampur, Chenani-Nashri and Jammu-Udhampur.
The funds for remaining sub-projects of Banihal-Qazigund and Banihal-Srinagar would be approved later, sources said, adding the Government of India was committed to complete widening of the strategic National Highway as early as possible. Some of the funds have been released already.
Four-laning of Ramban-Banihal stretch of the highway will be undertaken with the help of seven tunnels, sources said, adding that work on the stretch will be executed on the pattern of four-laning of the highway in Jammu and Udhampur.
Among the bid two tunnels—Chenani-Nashri connecting two districts of Udhampur and Ramban will be nine kilometers long while Jawahar tunnel at Banihal connecting Jammu region with the Kashmir Valley will be 8.5 kilometers long.
“With construction of tunnels at vulnerable and landslide prone areas, the problem of blockades would overcome,’’ sources said.