SRINAGAR, Aug 8: Governor N N Vohra today expressed dismay over the dilapidated condition of Mughal road and directed the Public Works Department (PWD) to undertake a physical and financial audit to fix responsibility for the poor maintenance of this strategic road which provides alternate connectivity to Kashmir valley with rest of the country.
Chairing a high-level joint meeting of the officers of the Public Works, Planning and Monitoring and Finance Departments here this evening, Vohra recalled his recent journey on the Mughal road which was in poor condition, causing great inconvenience to commuters.
Advisors to Governor B B Vyas and Khurshid Ahmed Ganai and Chief Secretary, B V R Subrahmanyam were present at the meeting
Commissioner/Secretary, Public Works, Khurshid Ahmad Shah, informed the meeting that various measures are being taken to make Mughal Road an all-weather link and the National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) has floated a tender to prepare a DPR for the construction of a tunnel at a certain point on this 84-km road.
The Governor expressed concern over the inordinate delay in the completion of the 7 Km road stretch from Katra Railway Station to Kakryal in district Reasi.
Stressing the need for expanding and improving intra-state connectivity, Vohra said that quality road network, especially in the rural areas, is crucial to the economic inclusion of a large percentage of the population which lives in difficult areas of the State.
“To support the rural economy, it is critical to ensure that road infrastructure is built and maintained in a manner which ensures all-weather connectivity and withstands the climatic vagaries,” he observed at another high-level meeting convened here this afternoon to review the progress of road projects in the State under the flagship Centrally Sponsored Schemes and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
The Governor stressed that, while formulating road projects, the executing agencies must take into account how climate resilient construction can be integrated into the planning of rural roads. “These connectivity projects will erase the geographical boundaries between people living in far flung areas of the state and open up new vistas of social progress and economic prosperity,” he said and called for expediting the PMGSY projects and addressing the bottlenecks including forest clearances and land acquisition at the earliest in coordination with the concerned Departments.
To address the bottlenecks, it was decided that Principal Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department shall compile district-wise profiles regarding the hurdles being faced e.g. delays due to land acquisition, forest clearances and shifting of utilities so that the same are addressed in a coordinated manner at the highest level in the Government.
Expressing serious concern over the mounting casualties in road accidents in the State, the Governor stressed the need for improving the quality of the roads, especially in hilly areas.
He asked the executing agencies to urgently accelerate the pace of work so as to complete all the schemes on the targeted date without any loss of time or cost-overrun especially in the Kashmir valley, winters zones of Jammu and Leh/Kargil where the working season is very limited.
Vohra expressed serious concern over the fact that 2,400 kms of roads, under Phase III – IX of PMGSY, costing Rs 1,500 crore are yet to be completed. He directed expediting all pending projects and stressed the need for the PWD to make advance preparations so that J&K can secure the maximum number of road projects under PMGSY-II which is scheduled to be launched by the Government of India next year.
The meeting was informed that under Phase X-XII, for about 8,000 Kms of roads, costing Rs 7,000 crore, Government of India has not provided funds for land acquisition which shall cost about Rs 1,700 crore, as was done in the earlier Phases. It was decided that PWD would complete 1000 Km roads of earlier Phases by October 2018 and the State Government would thereafter request Government of India to provide funds for land acquisition.
Meanwhile, Vohra also reviewed the progress of the upcoming Ring Road Projects which will open new economic opportunities and decongest vehicular traffic in the twin capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.
He called upon the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the concerned Departments of the State Government to adopt a well-coordinated and focused approach for ensuring that the twin projects, part of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP), are completed within the stipulated timeframe of 3 years.
The Governor asked Director NHAI to ensure that both projects go ahead at full speed and promptly inform Chief Secretary if any difficulty was faced in implementation.
The work on Jammu Project started earlier this year and the Srinagar Project is expected to commence in the coming weeks. Officers said the total length of the project is 58.255 km in Jammu from Raya Morh to Nagrota of which 47.160 km are in plain terrain and 11.095 km fall in hilly areas.In Srinagar, the project length is 60.942 kms which will be taken up in two packages; one from Gallander which ends at Sumbal road junction (42.10 km length) and the second from Sumbal road junction to Wayul junction on existing NH-1D (19 km approx).
The NHAI officers said that once the land is handed over to them in Kashmir, their engineering teams will urgently get down to the work and other issues relating to shifting of utilities, like electricity supply and water connections will also be resolved.
Principal Secretary Planning, Development & Monitoring, Rohit Kansal, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, Commissioner/Secretary PWD, Khurshid Ahmad Shah, Commissioner/Secretary Revenue, Shahid Ananyatullah, Commissioner/Secretary Forests, Saurabh Bhagat, District Development Commissioner Srinagar, Dr Abid Rasheed, District Development Commissioner Budgam, Dr Sehrish Asgar, Regional Head NHAI, Hem Raj, Chief Engineers and other concerned officers were also present in the meeting.
Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Sanjeev Verma and Deputy Commissioners of Jammu, Samba, Ganderbal, Budgam, Bandipora, Pulwama and Baramulla attended the meeting through video-conferencing.