Ramban: Seemingly resolute J&K government is working on a multi-pronged strategy this season to evade a repeat of chaos due to stranded fruit-laden trucks on Srinagar Jammu National Highway as witnessed in the past couple of years.
Proactive approach of the government has rejuvenated hopes of the farming community of Kashmir that their fruit-laden trucks, on the way to markets across the country, will have an unhindered movement on Srinagar Jammu National Highway.
Learning its lessons properly and also responding to the pleas and suggestions of different bodies of farmers and business community, including Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI), the government in the past few days has unveiled a kind of blueprint to avoid mess on the National Highway, this time.
In the backdrop of ongoing constructions at different stretches of Srinagar Jammu National Highway besides usual vagaries of weather, those associated with horticulture sector, mainly apple-farmers, have been a distressed lot in the past couple of years. Their fruit-laden trucks have to remain stranded a number of times on the highway, thus causing them big losses.
This has been a concern, which is shared by KCCI at the concerned quarters as well in the recent past.
Besides other issues, major concern has been that fruit-laden trucks should be given unhindered access to NH.
In this connection, the Chief Secretary, two days ago visited Ramban district to inspect and take stock of the situation all along Srinagar Jammu National Highway (NH 44).
Given the increasing movement of fruit-laden trucks from Kashmir Valley towards Jammu and the rest of the country, the Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta directed the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), to explore the possibility of using Lamber Ground near Toll Plaza Banihal alongside Srinagar-Jammu National Highway as truck-holding area.
He also asked NHAI to construct an alternate link towards Lamber Ground to facilitate in-and-out movement of trucks from the truck- holding area.
Besides, Regional Officer NHAI was asked to complete the work on 2.3 km, Banihal viaduct (flyover), which would bypass Banihal town by December 2023, to facilitate smooth movement of traffic on the National Highway.
He issued directions to NHAI to blacktop the link road from the Expressway to Banihal town till the work on the Banihal bypass was completed.
He directed NHAI to ensure the completion of the 6.2 km Sher Bibi viaduct, Tunnel T-4, 4.2 km Digdol twin-tunnels and the additional two tubes of Ramban Flyover functional within the stipulated timeline, as this new infrastructure would further decrease travel time between Srinagar and Jammu.
He advised NHAI to explore the possibility of hassle-free two-way movement of HMVs, between Tunnels T-3 and T-5.
The chief secretary also passed directions to complete the T-5 viaduct and underpass near Magarkote within the stipulated timeline.
During his visit to Ramban, the chief secretary also reiterated his direction to the Traffic Department for making the 66-km road stretch between Qazigund and Nashri tunnels two-way for both light-medium vehicles (LMVs) and heavy vehicles (HMVs) which are below 4 axles, adding that HMVs which are above 4 axles shall ply only during the lean period as per a laid-out plan by the Traffic Department.
“This is expected to provide huge relief as this will put an end to forced halts at Qazigund, Ban Toll Plaza and Jakhani in future,” it was stated during the meeting, which he chaired, following inspection.
Deputy Commissioner, Ramban, Mussarat Islam has been asked to monitor the progress of works regularly and share the status.