The Jammu-Srinagar highway continues to worsen with every passing day. Call it lack of political will or administrative inertia that Kashmirís jugular is continuously choking. The state government having washed its hands off the maintenance of the road - giving it to the custody of the Project Beacon Ė is hardly bothered by the chaotic traffic scenes on this road. The mess is more visible on the Pampore-Srinagar strip of this road, though there are many more bottlenecks on this road. That the magnitude of the traffic holdups which lasts sometimes even for hours is described as slow movement of traffic reflects the official mindset. To this mind it is just another problem. Would anyone of them ever get caught in this traffic mess they could feel the suffocation suffered by the ordinary souls.
One wonders as to what prevents the state government and the Beacon authorities from addressing the problem of bottlenecks. Removing a few dozen of residential or commercial buildings after proper acquisition should not be an uphill task for the two. If they could do it on Srinagar-Baramulla part of the highway why canít they do it on Srinagar-Pampore part of it? Canít the State Government think of laying another by-pass or a parallel road to ease the situation? The road urgently needs to be widened from Athwajan to Pampore which is the most vulnerable portion of the road to the traffic jams. There are several other places which call for widening; like the portion of the road that bisects the historic Awantipora, Bijbehara towns; at Khanabal the road needs similar treatment.
Then there are several places along the highway where work on 4-lanning of the highway is in progress, but that has been going on at an irritatingly low speed. The work on North-South corridor that was taken up somewhere during the premiership of Atal Bihari Vajapaiyee has not been completed yet. This is so regardless of the fact that the revenue authorities have already made substantial progress in land acquisition task. Obviously the project is a centrally funded one and resource should not be a constraint. For a gigantic task of 4-lanning of the highway all the organs of the government and the executing agency or agencies need to work in absolute coordination, but unfortunately it appears to be missing. The state government needs to rise from the slumber on the issue and ensure that the work on the prestigious project gets going at a pace that it desires.
The pressure on the highway would definitely ease if another prestigious project of very high economic importance and greater public convenience Udhampur-Baramulla Rail Line is acclerated. The project was taken up in 1994 and 17 years past the project is nowhere near completion. The present PM had set the date for completion of the railway project as 2007 but then the date was extended to 2017. Given the slow pace of work on the Katra-Qazigund strip of the railway it is unlikely that the project would get completed before 2017. Even the work on Udhampur-Katra strip is faced with its own lot of problems. The Indian Railway shall have to gear up to take up the work with all seriousness and enthusiasm so that the costs do not escalate. The project was initially estimated to cost Rs 19000 crores and since 1994, when the project was announced, much water has flown down the Chinab. The project cost has skyrocketed. Further delays would only compound the problems for the Indian Railways and it may not be in a position to keep dates.
The state government would do well to pursue vigorously the cases with the Union Government for realizing the dream of having a 4-lane Srinagar-Jammu highway and the Udhampur-Baramulla rail line. It needs to step in where the union government and its agencies involved in the execution of the projects want its help. Meanwhile it should not be difficult for it to take the short-term measures like removing bottlenecks from the road to ensure smooth flow of traffic.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 19 Jun 2011 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 19 Jun 2011 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 20 Jun 2011 00:00:00 IST
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