SRINAGAR, July 26: The Chief Secretary, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta chaired a meeting to review the status of National Highway-44 and took stock of the ongoing road-widening works especially in District Ramban.
Administrative Secretaries of departments of Revenue, Power Development, Public Works (R&B), and Forest, Ecology & Environment, besides District Development Commissioner (DDC), Ramban, SSP Traffic, National Highway, Ramban, Regional Officer, NHAI, and concerned officers participated in the meeting.
Expressing concern, the Chief Secretary observed that the rate of progress of road-widening/maintenance works is unsatisfactory which is causing inconvenience to the commuters. “The problem is further aggravated by rash and indisciplined lane driving leading to frequent traffic jams; shortage of traffic personnel deputed on NH duty and unannounced movement of army convoys”, he added.
To improve traffic management on the National Highway, the Chief Secretary directed the traffic police to double the manpower to manage traffic at all choking points in addition to implementing suitable remedies to reduce the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar which currently varies from ten to twelve hours on account of mismanaged traffic.
To further streamline traffic movement on the National Highway, the Chief Secretary directed NHAI and DDC Ramban to develop various vehicle holding areas at Kainthi, Karol, Kowbagh near Ramban town, Peerah, Asher, near Banihal, and Ramsoo; to accommodate stranded vehicles in the event of closure of the National Highway due to bad weather.
He further directed installation of LED signage at all critical locations along the entire stretch from Jammu to Srinagar within one week to provide real-time information on the current traffic position to the commuters to help them decide the future course of their journey.
Regarding traffic movement through the new ‘Navuyug’ tunnel at Banihal, the DDC, Ramban was directed to immediately operationalize both tubes of the tunnel for passage of civilian traffic.
The Chief Secretary directed the NHAI to complete the macadamization of Dalwas stretch in 3 days and Jakheni-Nashri section by 15th August, 2021, besides immediately commencing the realignment works on Ramban-Banihal section to be completed by December, 2022. NHAI was also directed to handover the by-pass section of old NH – Pantha Chowk-Sonwar road to PW(R&B) Department for its further maintenance.
The NHAI was further asked to install crash barriers with warning signs at all critical junctions by 31st August 2021 to prevent fatal accidents on the National Highway-44.