Karnah, Gurez Tunnels | State pins hope on Centre

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As the demand for construction of tunnels for frontier areas of Karnah and Gurez in northern Kashmir is gaining momentum, J&K is hoping to get approval from Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH) for the key road projects.

The State Government had approached the Ministry of Defence on July 13 last year with a request to “grant highest priority to sanctioning of these tunnels,” documents accessed by Greater Kashmir have revealed.

The prefeasibility studies of these tunnels were carried out by Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which comes under the administrative control of the Ministry.

However, on October 10 last year the Defence Ministry communicated to the State Government that these projects were “not immediate operational priority” and, therefore, not planned to be taken up by the BRO in immediate future.

It also suggested to the State Government that construction of the tunnels, if deemed necessary, may be taken up with Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MORTH).

Subsequently, the State sent the proposal to MORTH for sanctioning these projects on February 14 this year.

Since then the J&K Government is awaiting approval to these projects from the ministry, which has already given nod to several tunnel projects in the State.

When contacted, commissioner secretary Roads & Buildings Department Khursheed Ahmad Shah said the State Government was “vigorously” pursuing the proposals with the Centre.

“We are committed to ensure round-the-year connectivity to the areas that remain cut-off during winters. We are looking at how we can get funding for construction of these tunnels,” he said. The construction of tunnels at Razdan pass and Sadhana top would ensure round-the-year connectivity to Gurez and Karnah, which remain cut-off from outer world during winters owing to heavy snowfall on roads leading to the areas.

The State Government requires Rs 7500 crore to undertake construction of these two tunnels.