NHAI team reaches Jammu; inspects Tarnah bridge site

Transporters postpone stir to Sept 1
Representational Image [Source: NHAI]
Representational Image [Source: NHAI]

Jammu, Aug 29: Two-member high level technical team of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) Tuesday reached Jammu to inspect Tarnah bridge, which was washed away in recent flash floods in Kathua district and other projects of NH-44.

The team, which reached Kathua this morning, joined by senior officials of civil administration, ex-MLAs, PRI representatives and locals visited the damaged Tarnah bridge site and under-construction causeway to take stock of the situation.

J&K government officials, PRIs and other representatives brought hardships, being faced by people for the last two months or so due to the damaged bridge, to the notice of the team.

Following inspection by the NHAI team, Deputy Commissioner Kathua Rakesh Minhas told media persons, “The team inspected the damaged bridge at Tarnah and the new causeway, which is under construction. The team visited the stretch right from Lakhanpur to Tarnah in Kathua and would go up to Samba and Jammu and inspected all the works under execution on the highway. Many observations, being flagged by people, PRIs, media and other representatives of people, came to the fore during their inspection.”

“We too flagged many issues related to the public and deliberated on them. We are hopeful and a good solution to this problem will emerge very soon. As far as this temporary causeway is concerned, we had planned to complete it in 10-15 days. In fact, twice it was completed also yet rains played spoilsport and it washed away. Now if we get just two days without rain, it will be ready for two-wheelers and Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs). In fact, the movement of pedestrians and two-wheelers is already on. Once macadamisation gets completed, it will be open for heavy vehicles also in a few days,” Minhas said.

He stated that issues related to toll exemption would be decided following the submission of a report by the team to authorities concerned.

NHAI team also refused to answer media queries with regard to exemption of toll tax stating that it was a policy issue and it was not in a position to make any comment or decide on that.

“Centre and the concerned ministry are alive to the problems being faced by people here. That is why, this team is here. Executing agencies of NHAI are sincerely engaged in their job of constructing the alternate road and trying to make it available to people for use as early as possible. They had completed the bedding yet it caved in again in floods. This kind of destruction has happened in many parts of the country. We have come here to find a technical solution to it and hope to address this issue very soon,” senior team member said.

During its scheduled visit, the team is likely to meet the Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta and other senior officials and review other NHAI projects in the Union Territory. 

Notably, Jammu, Samba and Kathua districts have been witnessing protests for the past two months or so with the people seeking suspension of Sarore toll plaza till the damaged bridge is repaired and smooth traffic is restored on it. Yuva Rajput Sabha is spearheading an agitation, supported by all political parties of J&K (except BJP), Jammu Chamber, Bar Association and transporters, on the issue. In this connection, Jammu bandh was also observed on August 26. Protests in different parts of Jammu and Samba districts continued even today.

Meanwhile transporters today announced that they would go on strike from September 1, instead of August 31, in case their demands were not addressed, in the wake of Raksha Bandhan festival.

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