SRINAGAR-JAMMU HIGHWAY CRIES FOR ATTENTION
Govt, NHAI, Contracting Firms Pass The Buck On Maintenance Deficit
MUDDASIR ALI/KHALID GUL
Srinagar, Sep 24: While uncertainty hovers around timely completion of four-laning of Srinagar-Jammu highway, the existing road has taken a hit as nobody seems to own its maintenance which in turn is putting lives of commuters at risk.
An official in National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) said the Union Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure (CCI) was yet to take a decision on tendering out the work on two sub-projects - Ramban-Banihal (36 Kms) and Udhampur–Ramban (43 KMs). Last time the process was unsuccessfully taken up in 2010.
The other sub-projects are Srinagar-Banihal (67.76 Kms), Qazigund-Banihal (15.25 Kms), Chenani-Nashri (12 Kms) and Jammu-Udhampur (65 Kms). Those who bagged the contracts include Ramkey Infra and JPTEG India-China, Navyuga Engineering Co. Ltd, IL&FS Transportation Networks Ltd and Shapoorji & Palonji Co Ltd. Project Director NHAI (Srinagar), Veerendra Singh said they have no knowledge on delay in tendering out of the pending works.
The NHAI is the overarching body for the implementation of the project. “The decision has to be taken by the Government of India,” he said.
The NHAI official said while May 2014 was the scheduled completion period for the road projects, the main tunnels - Qazigund-Banihal tunnel (15 Km) and Chenani-Nashri tunnel (12 Km) were targeted for completion in 2016. The entire project estimated to cost over Rs 11000 crore, is part of the North-South corridor.
The partial new alignment of the road with around 14 tunnels, 40 bridges, a number of viaducts and flyovers will reduce the length of over 300 km highway by at least 50 km.
“But given the slow pace of work and delay in awarding the two sub-projects, it remains to be seen whether the entire program would be completed within the set time,” an official said.
The delay in work is not the only challenge the mega project is up against. The maintenance of the existing road, which witnesses heavy traffic movement for 24 hours a day especially on this side of Jawahar Tunnel, has taken a hit as nobody seems to own the responsibility.
Take for example Srinagar- Banihal stretch of the highway. The road is in a horribly dilapidated condition at places like Lethpora, Barsoo, Pampore, Khannabal, Wanpoh and different patches of Qazigund.
Sources said though there is an agreement between NHAI and contractors, who were awarded the sub-projects, over maintenance of the road the road continues to be in a bad shape at many places.
An official acknowledged that the highway starting from Qazigund towards Srinagar not only witnesses traffic pressure moving in and out from the Valley but the vehicular movement from almost entire south Kashmir also results in wear and tear of the road surfaces.
People who travel regularly on the highway are all fire against the authorities for ignoring its maintenance.
“The potholes on the Lethpora road stretch always remain filled with water. It has turned into a cesspool,” said Arshid Hussain, a daily commuter.
The dusty condition of the dilapidated road is taking a toll on health of the commuters, said Gulzar Ahmad, a Sumo driver. “Nobody is bothered to provide relief to people.”
A senior official in Ramkey Infra said they have recently taken over the job for maintenance of the existing road.
“We will take care of it,” he said. The contractor has been awarded new alignment of road from 187 kms to 189 kms, and 220 kms to 286 kms.
Chief Engineer Beacon, Brigadier TPS Rawat said it was the job of the NHAI and contractors to maintain the road.
He said though on Kashmir side the NHAI had taken over road from Qazigund to Panthachowk, the authority was yet to take the Qazigund-Banihal road stretch despite passing of almost two years.
“We are maintaining it though it is supposed to be job of the NHAI and concessionaires,” Rawat said.
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 24 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 25 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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