Pitfalls of Potholes | Road to education in terrible shape

Under the project, this road was to be widened to make it a “double lane” to facilitate the movement of two vehicles at the same time besides the construction of drains to regulate water flow and also to straighten the curves on the existing single-lane.
Dust from the uneven road surface and gravel scattered all over the stretch add to the hardships of those driving or commuting the distance on foot.
Dust from the uneven road surface and gravel scattered all over the stretch add to the hardships of those driving or commuting the distance on foot.Special arrangement

Rajouri: Travelling on and along the main road between Rajouri town and Baba Ghulam Shah Badshah University (BGSBU), which also connects half a dozen villages, is no less than a nightmare.

The entire road stretch is strewn with potholes. Dust from the uneven road surface and gravel scattered all over the stretch add to the hardships of those driving or commuting the distance on foot.

The road stretch starts from Rajouri town and ends at the main gate of BGSBU.

It was a single-lane road till a former chief minister during his visit declared the project “vital” owing to its link with BGSBU and announced a special budgetary provision for it.

Under the project, this road was to be widened to make it a “double lane” to facilitate the movement of two vehicles at the same time besides the construction of drains to regulate water flow and also to straighten the curves on the existing single-lane.

Official sources said that after the direction of the then chief minister, a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for this road was prepared by the Public Works Department (PWD) and the project was further subdivided into two parts that included the construction of rigid pavement from Sheema Morh (University Morh) to Police GO Mess via Dhani Dhar Bowli and then the construction of blacktopped road from Dhani Dhar Bowli to BGSBU campus.

They said that the work on this project was started properly after tendering. The work was allotted to a firm and earth cutting was also started. This continued for over a year. However, it remained stalled during 2019 after the abrogation of Article 35-A and Article 370 on August 5.

“For months together, the work remained stalled after the abrogation of Article 35-A and Article 370. It was only in the last month of 2019 that work was restarted. But then it came to the fore that administrative approval of the project was still pending,” the official sources said. “Although the project was properly sanctioned and approved by the competent authority, there was some negligence on the part of an officer during the project’s paperwork that Administrative Approval was not applied for. It came to the fore in 2020 that the administrative approval was pending."

They said that soon after the higher authorities raised an objection over this project for want of administrative approval, the work got stalled.

“There has been no major progress since then and even the contractor engaged for the project is having pending liability,” official sources said. “Only some maintenance work has been done in the last two and half years. However, there is no major progress in terms of the completion of the project. On the one hand, there is a huge liability on the department concerning the contractor’s payment, on the other hand, administrative approval is still awaited.”

They said that the matter of administrative approval was taken up with the higher authorities multiple times.

“Every time, the assurance of the earliest sanction was made but it was not implemented,” the official sources said.

However, they said that recently Deputy Commissioner (DC) Rajouri aggressively followed the case and took up the matter with the J&K government.

“Now things are moving in a positive direction and everyone is hopeful that administrative approval will be accorded in a few days,” they said. “Following the intervention of DC Rajouri, the work for the construction of the rigid pavement (cemented road) from Sheema Morh to Police GO Mess has also been started.”

Regarding the road stretch from Dhani Dhar Bowli to BGSBU road, the official sources said that this work would start only after the administrative approval is sanctioned officially.

“But some necessary maintenance has been carried out which included filling of potholes and clearing slides,” they said.

The students and staff of BGSBU and villagers expressed their resentment over the pitiable condition of this main road, terming it the biggest nuisance.

“Six main villages are connected to this road. These include Dhanore, Jarallan, Dhani Dhar, and Kappa Kha and there is a dense human population in these villages,” said Bal Sharma, a resident of the area.

He said that around a dozen link roads were also connected to this road and it was one of the busiest roads in the area adjoining the main town.

M K Sharma, a BGSBU student said: “Accidents are a routine on this road and people feel unsafe to travel here. Potholes are the biggest problem that causes accidents. Two-wheeler riders constitute the worst affected lot. Several BGSBU students using two-wheelers met with an accident in the past.”

A BSGBU employee, who did not wish to be named, said, “We demand immediate resumption of the work on this road at a fast pace so that this project gets completed at the earliest and students and staff of BGSBU, and villagers heave a sigh of relief.”

A driver of a load carrier, who commutes almost daily on the road, said, “Driving a vehicle on this surface is a nightmare. Potholes are the major cause of risk and lead to accidents.”

Executive Engineer Public Works Department (PWD) in Rajouri Division, Maqbool Hussain told Greater Kashmir that the administrative approval of this project was awaited and the department was hopeful of getting it sanctioned at the earliest.

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