SRINAGAR: First it was public outcry, then objection from a government body, and now it is infighting within the Jammu and Kashmir government that is a stumbling block for the start of Boulevard road-widening project that was conceived in 2011.
The Rs 33-crore project approved by the NC-Congress dispensation had agreed to widen the road from Sonwar to Kralsangri which would increase the width by eight meters. At present the road is sliced between the famous Dal Lake and the range of Zabarwan hills. An engineer working on the project told Kashmir Reader that the new road was to be laid down from the hill side with space for cycling too, which could reduce the traffic congestion by a good margin.
“Since the conception, work on the project could only last for 20 days. Rest of the time it was marred by controversies,” an engineer in the Road and Buildings department told Kashmir Reader on the condition of anonymity.
First, the engineer said, people were against the project because they believed it will reduce the catchment area of Dal. This perception died down when the department ensured that the Dal will remain untouched. Then LAWDA, a government body meant for preservation of Dal, intervened citing that the area fell within 100 metres of Dal and construction cannot be done.
“The case then landed in the court and decision was in our favour with some suggestions. We were told to widen the already existing path by 2m, and other things. We agreed and work started. Then we began to acquire the land for the same purpose but we are facing hurdles and now another round of infighting has begun,” the engineer said.
About 123 kanals of land, 17 structures, 12 shops and 3 plots in Theed, Brain, Asthal, Zethyar, Nowpora and Gupkar areas comes under the prestigious project. The engineer said most of land comes under the jurisdiction of government departments and tourism department’s share is at the top, which is reluctant to transfer the land.
“Golf course land, Zabarwan Park, forest land is yet to be acquired and steps to acquire it have failed. Now the top official process has stopped too. I don’t think there is any likeliness of the project starting in near future,” the engineer added.
The infighting has happened despite the fact that Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, convened a meeting to review the progress of the 4-laning project of Boulevard from Nehru Park to Kralsangri. The work was scheduled to begin from the same month.