The government of India has selected consultant to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed two-laning of Mughal Road that connects Kashmir Valley with Pir Panchal region of Jammu province.
A joint venture formed by the New Delhi-based Rodic Consultants Private Limited and the Pune-based Monarch Surveyors and Engineering Consultants Private Limited has been finalised to render consultation on the pre-construction works.
"We have finalised the consultant," Sanjeev Malik, executive director, National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), told Greater Kashmir over phone.
He said it will take one month to complete the necessary formalities and work for the DPR preparation will start in March and shall be completed in nine to 12 months.
Malik had told this newspaper in July 2018 that studies will be undertaken to quantify the volume of traffic plying on the Mughal Road to assess whether it qualifies to be declared as "national highway".
"The ministry (MORTH) will then take a final call on the issue," he had said.
The tendering work for the DPR had faced many hurdles in the past two years.
In March 2017, the union ministry of road transport and highways (MORTH) had invited proposals for preparation of DPR for building a tunnel on the Mughal Road.
However, the project was suddenly put on hold by the NHIDCL, citing absence of a notification from the ministry to undertake the task.
The government of India's move embarrassed the state government—then headed by the People's Democratic Party—because it was part of its "agenda of alliance" with the BharatiyaJanata Party.
This forced then chief minister Mehbooba Mufti and works minister NaeemAkther to rush to New Delhi to convey that halting the work has sent a "wrong signal" to the people in J&K.
It was only after the state government's intervention that the Centre floated tenders for preparation of the DPR.
Declaring the Mughal Road as "national highway" and constructing a tunnel between Zaznar and Chattapani would make it an all-weather thoroughfare which otherwise remains closed for vehicular movement during winters due to heavy snowfall.