With second deadline for the project just three months away, only 65 percent work on four-lanning of Srinagar-Banihal stretch of the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu highway has been completed so far, official sources said on Sunday, blaming unsolved land acquisition and compensation issues for the inordinate delay.
The mega four-lanning project has already missed the December 2014 deadline, and is, in all probability, set to miss the second deadline of July 2016.
According to officials, the expansion of this stretch of the highway—unlike the other stretches—has seen delay right from the beginning.
In 2011, the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) awarded the contract of four-lanning of 70-km-long Anantnag-Srinagar-Banihal portion of the Srinagar-Jammu highway to Ramky Constructions, and set December 2014 as deadline for it to complete the task.
But, according to sources, while the construction firm went slowly about the project for unknown reasons, the alleged lack of cooperation to it from the state administration only compounded the problems, initially.
Documents in procession of Greater Kashmir reveal that in Anantnag district's Damjan and Marhama (Puj Teng) areas, there is dispute on land measuring 300 and 100 meters, respectively. "In Damjan, land has not been handed over to Ramky as per the requirement in view of the land acquisition dispute," an official said.
The matter, he said, is right now sub-judice while the district administration is trying to do away with the litigation.
An official said the land acquisition issue at Maharhama (Puj Teng) was resolved by office of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, but the villagers fixed signboards on the land which read: 'Graveyard here; movement on Graveyard is strictly prohibited."
In Shuel village of Anantnag, railway authorities are yet to submit drawings for approval for the past two months.
Similarly in Pulwama district, the land for toll plaza at Kachikohoot is yet to be taken over by the company due to some compensation issue.
"The land owners are not allowing the construction on 400-meter land. They want settlement of some compensation issue. Only 20 percent compensation has been paid to the land owners so far," the official said.
It is not only land issues which are a hurdle in the way of early completion of work. The J&K's Public Health Engineering department is not shifting a Pump House at Barsoo and Lethpora while FCI Building/CRPF camp structure have not been cleared yet.
In Srinagar district, one-km of land has been handed over to the construction company where people are not allowing the construction for unknown reasons.
Taking to Greater Kashmir, former Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Muneer-Ul-Islam said, "There is issue at Shuel village, it will be solved soon. Rest we have cleared all issues."
According to J&K government officials, Ramky is to be blamed for inordinate delay in completing the project, particularly due to its failure to engage adequate men and machinery for construction of 67.76-km portion of the highway.
In comparison, an official said Afcon, a competitor of Ramky, completed the Udhampur stretch in time despite working in mountainous terrain.
Project Head of Ramky (for Srianagar-Banihal stretch) D.K. Singh claimed: "65% of work has been completed. We have completed the ground work of the project like earth-filling while macdamization process in full swing. We are waiting for proper weather so that macdamization process will be speeded up. We are hopeful that rest of the work will be completed before the deadline of July 2016."