4-lane Srinagar-Banihal highway still a distant dream; Govt miles away

Already facing multiple hiccups and missing several deadlines, the ambitious project of four-laning of Srinagar-Banihal portion of the Highway connecting State’s capitals, has come to a halt due to ongoing unrest in Kashmir with the developer failing to resume the work.
4-lane Srinagar-Banihal highway still a distant dream; Govt miles away
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Already facing multiple hiccups and missing several deadlines, the ambitious project of four-laning of Srinagar-Banihal portion of the Highway connecting State's capitals, has come to a  halt due to ongoing unrest in Kashmir with the developer failing to resume the work.

Initially set to be completed by June 2014, the work the work on the project had been bogged down since its inception in 2011, with concessionaire's lethargic approach, apart from Kashmir floods and the ongoing unrest badly affecting the project.

The project is facing delay even as the Prime Minister's office (PMO) is watching its pace and the J&K High Court had set July 31, 2016 deadline for its completion.

"No reason or cause will be accepted in delaying the completion of the four-laning by 31 July 2016," a division bench of Justice Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey had said in its order in 2015.

As the work stands stopped since July this year, the officials of NHAI and Ramky blame the ongoing unrest. "The work has come to a standstill due to ongoing unrest," Vice-President of Ramky Infrastructure Limited, Ayaz Hussain told Greater Kashmir.

He said they are making efforts to resume the work and added that more than 70 percent of work has been completed.

On the other hand, J&K Government's repeated pleas to the Ministry of Road, Transport and Highways and NHAI to get the project completed have fallen on deaf ears.

A senior official in State Government, wishing anonymity, said, "We are also concerned about non-resumption of the work".

"After Chief Secretary BR Sharma and Commissioner Secretary R&B Rohit Kansal visited different sections of the Highway last month, the Ramky has started mobilizing manpower but they are yet to resume the work," the official said. An official of NHAI, however, said, "The developer alone cannot be held responsible for slow pace of work on the project during the past five years."

"The State Government did not facilitate land acquisition process on time. Besides, they also took a lot of time in clearing utilities," he claimed.

In 2010, the project was awarded to a consortium of Ramky Infrastructure and Jiangsu Provincial Transportation Engineering Group Co Ltd.

The work on the project started on June 27, 2011 and was to be completed by June 26, 2014.

The concessionaire had to design, build, finance, operate and transfer the project on annuity basis.

The total EPC (engineering, procurement and construction) cost of the project was Rs 1101 crore (Rs 1600 crore as per Financial Model).

"The PMO and Union Home Ministry are regularly reviewing the four-laning of Srinagar Highway, the only road link connecting Kashmir with rest of the country," an official said.

The NHAI has divided the Highway into six stretches for construction purposes including Jammu-Udhampur, Udhampur-Chenani, Chenani Tunnel-Nashri, Ramban-Banihal, Banihal-Qazigund and Qazigund-Srinagar.

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