Jammu’s ace tourist resorts Sanasar, Mantalai, Dudu face total neglect

A view of Latti- Dudu road in district Udhampur.
A view of Latti- Dudu road in district Udhampur.

‘No clue of Rs 52 cr Mantalai-Dudu road project sanctioned by Gadkari
Beautiful waterfall at Dudu draws no attention of Tourism Deptt

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, July 7: The tourist resorts of Jammu region including Sanasar, Mantalai, Dudu faced worst kind of Government apathy as the roads leading to these ‘ace tourist destinations’ of the region have been facing neglect on the part of State agencies and the respective previous Governments.
Taking no lessons from the recent tragic road accidents in Kishtwar, Doda and Budhal in Rajouri, where more than 55 people have lost their lives, the State agencies have turned Nelson’s eye towards the road condition of these tourist spots falling in Udhampur and Ramban districts. In Latti and Dudu areas, three major accidents took place due to bad condition of road during last five years in which 25 people were killed when a bus rolled down into a gorge, 13 were killed near Dudu in road accident and six died when a truck rolled down into Tawi. Even thereafter, the Government agencies did not take any pain to improve this road.
Official sources said that 25 kms long Mantalai-Latti road was constructed in 1978 while Dudu was connected with Latti in 1983 as single non-mettled road. Since then, there is no improvement on this road. Still this stretch is single, and was never blacktopped since long, except hardly 5 kms stretch around Latti town last year.
Despite worst road conditions, thousands of tourists are visiting these places from Jammu, Udhampur, Ramban, Doda, Katra, Samba, Kathua, adjoining Punjab and several other States during summers, but respective Governments and Governor’s Administrations or even the PW (R&B) authorities never bothered to launch up-gradation of these vital roads and give life- line to the people of these areas. If the Government is so much particular to improve Tourist resorts, the mere slogans of developing Independent tourist destinations in Jammu region will not work at all. The first step should be there to provide good road connectivity and then allied facilities for the stay and comforts of the tourists.
The people from Latti and Dudu areas including KL Gupta, Govind Ram and Khalid Hussain told the Excelsior that they along with their the then MLA, Dina Nath had met the Union Minister for Surface Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari at Delhi in 2016. Gadkari’s nephew happened to visit Latti- Dudu area after visiting Mata Vaishnodevi and Patnitop. He was shocked to see the condition of the road and asked us to lead a deputation to Union Minister for Surface Transport and Highways and assured his support.
Gadkari sanctioned Rs 52 cr double lane road project from Mantalai to Dudu ( 42 kms). The work on 5 kms road from Mantalai to Bup was inaugurated by the then R&B Minister Naeem Akhtar with great fanfare in September 2017 but that work has almost been abandoned. One year’s time frame was given by the R&B Minister to complete this 5 kms stretch at the cost of Rs 9.90 cr but now after nearly two years, even 50% cutting/ earth work has not been executed by the contractor. This road will have 8.5 meters of length as per project.
But interestingly, during last year 15 kms road from Bup to Sira near Latti under PMGSY was sanctioned to another contractor despite the fact that this separate road project had already been sanctioned under CRF by Nitin Gadkari. The PMGSY has reduced the width of this 15 kms road from 8.5 mts to 6.5 mts. The pace of work is also very slow on this road. The people of this area are still confused and clueless about Rs 52 crore CRF project for double road from Mantalai- to Dudu and its fate for which a few leaders in ruling party had even tried to take credit. The news about this project even became headlines on the front page of some newspapers in the State, they maintained.
The locals revealed that Principal Secretary, Planning, Rohit Kansal who visited Latti-Dudu area recently, pulled up the concerned SE and Executive Engineer for very slow pace of work on this road and also directed to change the contractor and stop his pending payments. A notice has reportedly been issued to the contractor by the R&B authorities.
They said for the repair, maintenance and blacktopping of this road, they moved from pillar to post and even met the then R&B Ministers in PDP-BJP, NC-Cong regimes, concerned MP, the then Chief Secretary , Advisor to Governor K Vijay Kumar at Udhampur, but Governor’s Administration also remained inactive over the issue.
They said there is beautiful waterfall, far better than Camety Fall of Mussoorie, but the J&K Tourism department failed to develop this spot at Dudu, at the bank of river Tawi just at the foothills of Seoj Dhar. Shiv Gali Top on way to Basantgarh from Dudu and Gand Top, two beautiful tourist spots in the area which attract a large number of tourists and scouts and guides every year, are also facing neglect as people often avoid to visit due to bad road connectivity. This entire circular road is needed to be upgraded right from Chenani- Sudh Mahadev, Man Talai-Latti-Dudu-Basantgarh and Majouri up to Ramnagar. The people of this entire belt had high hopes from the concerned public representatives but they too, failed to deliver. They appealed the Union Minister in PMO and concerned MP Dr Jitendra Singh to intervene personally and discover the fate of Nitin Gadkari’s Rs 52 crore Mantalai-Dudu Road project.
The road leading to famous Sanasar tourist resort is nearly 19 kms in length. The road up to Natha Top where vital Defence communication system has been installed, is well maintained by Defence authorities. But remaining 9 kms road stretch, which is under PW(R&B) authorities, R&B Division Ramban, is laying in worst condition. The road is totally rough and has turned accident prone. The locals alleged that this road was not repaired during last over a decade. In the absence of side drains, rain water flows over this single Kucha road and has turned it into a ‘virtual Khud’ at many places. The broken road surface has made the road users/ tourists to suffer.
“There is no direct link to district headquarters Ramban from Sanasar. During 2007-8, a 4 kms road under PMGSY which was started by R&B authorities was abandoned after earth work on hardly 1 kms road patch due to the reason best known to people at the helm of affairs. From Nashri side, about 10 kms road has been constructed to this village. Four bridges were also completed but road is still Kucha but if this road is connected via Sana village to Nashri, the distance between Chenani to Sanasar will be reduced to nearly 17 kms via Nashri Tunnel, Attar Singh a local from Sanasar said.
He said there is need to develop local Bus Stand. During rush of tourists in summer months, there is no parking place left for the vehicles. The PDA and R&B authorities must expand the parking slot and blacktop it with better toilet facilities. On this single road, long traffic jams are created when there is huge rush. Hardly last Sunday, over 2000 vehicles / cars were witnessed at this small place. A long traffic jam was created for over 3-4 hours on this single road. The people were left to face hardships as there is no traffic police on this route. Traffic mis-management is yet another major issue at this place, he added.