Up-gradation of Rambagh- Kadlabal road suffers due to higher land acquisition cost

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, July 29: The up-gradation of Rambagh-Kadlabal road through Lasjan area in the city outskirts is held up for over a year, with officials citing the higher cost of land acquisition as a major bottleneck in the road’s development.
This 20-kilometers road stretch connecting several areas of South Kashmir with the city was supposed to be developed under World Bank-funded Tawi Flood Recovery Project in 15-months, but the project remains a nonstarter even after passing of over 18-month since the bidding process was initiated.
The Project Management Unit of Jhelum and Tawi Flood recovery project invited bids for the project on 3rd September. The bids were supposed to be received on 14th November 2019 and opened on the same date.
An official said the lax attitude of the officials in the bidding process delayed the project. “The concerned officials could not complete the process on time and that caused an inordinate delay in the project,” the official said, adding that the project got delayed despite the availability of funds.
However, officials at the Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency told Excelsior that there is every possibility that the cost of land acquisition would be higher than the development cost and that is a major hurdle in the project.
“The project is yet to receive approval from Government or World Bank. The World Bank cannot approve a project which involves acquisitions of this scale. The government has to take care of the acquisitions,” Director Kashmir, J&K ERA, Tanveer Mir, said.
The road runs parallel to the National Highway-44 and is often used as a detour during traffic jams, but the dilapidated condition of the road makes the journey tedious and bumpy.
“We often use the route to escape traffic jams, but the journey on this road is difficult. The road is very narrow at some places and that affects the smooth flow of traffic. If this road is developed, it would serve as a main connecting link between many southern parts and the city,” Adil Ahmad, a driver said.
The road passes through several areas and the residents of these areas are also facing hardships due to the dilapidated condition of the road. They complained they have submitted memoranda to the officials several times and also held protests, but they have done nothing to macadamize the damaged roads. The villages including Samerboog, Shaluna, Zoonipora, and Lasjan are the worst affected.
“We have been waiting for the repair of roads for several years, but nobody is taking any interest. Several deputations have raised the issue with the administration and the local but to no avail,” Abdul Hamid Wani, a resident of shailuna said.
The locals of several villages lamented their problems exacerbate during rains when potholes are filled with water, making the commute a herculean task, especially for two-wheelers.
They said the patients and students are the worst hit. “Taking pregnant women and patients to hospital is a major challenge. The bumpy ride can hurt both mother and child,” Abdul Ahad Dar, a local said, adding the authorities were paying the least attention to the road as it has seen no repair work for years.