A mega road widening project in the summer capital has hit roadblock due to paucity of funds and slow land acquisition process.
In 2009 authorities started expansion of the Syed Meerak Shah Road from Dalgate to Zakura primarily for facilitating smooth flow of vehicular movement through congested areas of historic Shahr-e-Khaas here.
The 10.33 kilometer road widening project estimated at Rs 336.24 crore was aimed to serve as key surface link to Shahr-e-Khaas, Hazratbal shrine and University of Kashmir.
However, despite passing of six years, the project is going on at snail's pace with even its first phase yet to be completed.
Officials cite paucity of funds and escalating real estate prices for land and structure acquisition for delay in undertaking the project.
The estimated cost of the first phase was pegged around Rs 95 crore.
"Inordinate delay by authorities to acquire land coupled with other reasons messed the project.
The prices of real estate have skyrocketed from 2009 and now the cost of this project has almost doubled as authorities have to make payments to land owners as per 2015 schedule," sources said.
Chief Engineer Roads and Buildings, Satish Razdan acknowledged delay in completion of the project. He said the project was divided into three phases—first Dalgate to Rainawari, second Rainawari to Saida Kadal and third Saida Kadal to Zakura respectively.
"However, currently the work is going on first phase. Paucity of funds and escalating costs of land acquisition has acted as an impediment in the project," Razdan said.
"Land acquisition has remained a major concern as prices of land from 2009 have increased manifold. We have to think on humanitarian basis and compensate the affected families by providing the rate as per current schedule. This has added up cost of the project," he said.
The CE also cited lack of funds as roadblock in the project. "Funds are also a concern. If funds are provided by the state government we can complete the project in shortest possible time."
The snail's pace of compensation process has evoked resentment among the people whose land and structures have been marked for acquisition to pave way for road widening.
"From last six years we are in dilemma about our future as neither we are able to expand our neither business nor purchase shops at other place. The concerned officials are not telling us clearly when our land, shops and houses will be acquired," said Muhammad Ramzan, a shopkeeper at Rainawari.