Five years on, the fate of Gurez-Bandipora tunnel hangs in balance as the project has not moved beyond DPR stage.
According to sources, a feasibility cum DPR was prepared by the project BEACON along with a hired consulting agency in 2015.
According to the DPR, the 18-km long tunnel having the approach across Razdan Pass was to be funded by the ministries of Road Transport and Highways, and Defence.
Sources said the feasibility study cum DPR was reportedly approved in June 2015 by Director General, BRO and the total project cost was estimated at Rs7,802.42 crore, which includes escalation charges.
Considering its length, the project was proposed to be completed in 9 years. The construction of tunnel on 84-kilometre long Bandipora-Gurez road at Razdan Pass would reduce the distance by 38 kilometres.
“We have no recent update on the DPR which is with the ministries concerned,” a BRO official stationed in Bandipora told Greater Kashmir.
Gurez people have been demanding the tunnel since long as the region remains cut off from rest of the country for at least six months due to heavy snowfall.
Besides, the tunnel also gains importance due to the presence of 330 MW Kishanganag Hydroelectric power project in Bandipora whose dam site is located in Gurez. The proposed tunnel is also believed to help all-weather connectivity for the defence personnel.
“We haven’t had any communication with regard to the construction of the tunnel from any agency, though it has been one of the prominent public demands being raised in every year,” Sub Divisional Magistrate Mudasir Ahmad told Greater Kashmir.
A BRO official said that “it is in the pipeline and the proposal is with the ministries”.
Locals stress that the tunnel is the need of the hour to bring about ease into their life. “In 2010 Kishanganga project drilled over 30 km long tunnels to divert water from Gurez. In winters it would take us half an hour to reach Bandipora via these tunnels but when water was released the facility came to an abrupt end,” Abdul Raheem Mir a Sarpanch from Dawar Gurez told Greater Kashmir.
Since then it has been “our constant demand to the government to construct a tunnel to ease the life of the people,” Mir added.
All the 20 Panchayats in the Back to Village programmes raised this demand but nothing concrete has been promised to them, he said.
Aijaz Raja, a BDC chairman of Tulail in Gurez said they have raised this demand in every forum from B2V to Delhi but “the ministers have only given us assurances while no progress is being witnessed on the ground”.
“Last year in December in one of the conferences we met union minister VK Singh. He assured that the work will be initiated but nothing has happened since,” Aijaz said.