Widening work of Shri Amarnath shrine tracks completed: DG BRO

Breakthrough achieved on Sungal tunnel by the BRO on Tuesday.
Breakthrough achieved on Sungal tunnel by the BRO on Tuesday.

Breakthrough on Jammu-Poonch NH tunnel

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, May 14: Director General of Border Roads Organisation (BRO) Lt Gen Raghu Srinivasan today said the pilgrims planning to visit Shri Amarnath Ji cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas during annual yatra this year would experience improved tracks.
The 52-day pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high cave will commence from the twin tracks — traditional 48-km Nunwan-Pahalgam route in Anantnag district and 14-km shorter but steep Baltal route in Ganderbal district — on June 29 and conclude on August 19.

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“I am back from the Baltal (base camp). Last year, we were assigned with the task of widening the track which was important for the safety of the devotees. We have completed the widening work and also covered the surface with blocks and attended curves and slopes,” the DG BRO told reporters on the sidelines of a tunnel breakthrough function in Rajouri.

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He said the BRO has also completed the most important work of laying roadside railing and sidewalls at vulnerable locations especially in the areas prone to shooting stones from the hillocks to keep the pilgrims safe.
Drainage was also completed on the tracks for better outlet of rain water, Lt Gen Srinivasan said.
The DG said it is heartening to note that the BRO has become ‘agency of choice’ for construction of infrastructure, including roads in strategic, sensitive and inaccessible areas where the work is only possible for six months due to weather vagaries.
“We are considering ourselves fortunate by getting such projects. We are presently working on Nimu-Padam-Darcha road (in the Union Territory of Ladakh) which will connect Manali to Leh through Darcha and Nimmu on Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway, providing a third axis (apart from Manali-Leh and Srinagar-Leh which connects Ladakh to the hinterland),” he said.
He said the BRO constructed 13,000 feet high Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh was dedicated to the people in March, while over four-km long Shinku La tunnel at a height of 15,800 along Nimmu-Padam-Darcha road will be a reality soon.
The DG said the Char Dham and Amarnath yatra treks, restoration of connectivity in Sikkim, major part of Arunachal Pradesh frontier highway and Indo-Myanmar border fence are some of the major projects handed over to BRO.
Meanwhile, the BRO today achieved a significant milestone by breaking through the 2.79-km Sungal tunnel along the Jammu-Poonch National Highway.
Srinivasan expressed the hope of completing the strategically important project within the next couple of years.
Sungal, connecting Akhnoor and Poonch, is the second of the four tunnels on the strategic National Highway 144-A, also known as the golden arc road, having achieved the milestone.
Earlier, the 700-metre Naushera tunnel achieved the breakthrough on January 28, while the tunnelling work inside 260 meter Kandi and 1.1 km Bhimber Gali is in progress.
“This is a great moment for all of us as the Jammu-Poonch link, advancing rapidly, is on track for completion in the next couple of years,” Lt Gen Srinivasan said.
Without naming Pakistan, he said this road is strategically very important in view of the “nefarious activities” of the neighbouring country which is backing terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir.
“The border areas of Poonch, Rajouri and Akhnoor are vital defence locations and when you are providing better connectivity, it automatically helps in enhancing defence preparedness,” Lt Gen Srinivasan said.
The BRO chief said both Naushera and Sungal tunnels will be completed by the end of this year.
“After completion of the vital road project, the time travel between Jammu and Poonch will be reduced by almost half from the present eight hours. The road widening and the four tunnels will provide all weather connectivity and provide a safe journey to the people,” he said.
He said the 200-km Akhnoor-Poonch section of the highway will drive the overall economic prosperity of the border region.
“The better roads will pave the way for massive development with investors coming forward with big projects,” he said.
The officials said the progress of the National Highway has taken pace and the project is expected to be completed by 2026.
“BRO is spearheading crucial road projects to connect remote areas with major centres in the Jammu-Poonch region,” the BRO chief said.
Asked about the defence infrastructure along the Line of Control (LoC), the DG said its development is a continuous process and the BRO is committed towards the strengthening of defence infrastructure by building and upgrading strategic roads all along the International Border, LoC and Line of Actual Control (LAC).
The BRO and its Project Sampark are steadfast in their commitment to “create, connect, care and save lives” of the citizens of its area of responsibility, he said.
“It believes in the adage ‘Roads Build Nation’ and rededicated itself to the construction of border roads infrastructures to spur socio-economic progress,” he said.