Srinagar: National Highway Authority of India on Tuesday assured J&K high court that will take every “positive step” to avoid any sort of inconvenience to the general public on Srinagar- Jammu highway, the only surface link connecting Kashmir Valley with rest of the world.
In its compliance report to the directions by the high court last week, project director NHAI, Veerendra Singh, also assured the court that much-awaited four laning of the highway from Qazigund to Pantha Chowk will be completed “as early as possible.”
The four laning project has been assigned by the NHAI to its executing agency— M/s Ramky Infrastructure Ltd.
“NHAI has taken all necessary measures for ensuring that the highway from Quzigund to Panthachowk is made functional and motorable for general public,” he said, claiming that almost 80% of patching work with Granular Sub Base (GSB) and Wet Mix Macadam (WMM) has been done so far.
“The bituminous works have been planned subsequently as weather improves and majority of works will be completed by May 31,” Singh said.
He said the road condition from Srinagar-Qazigund was satisfactory up to 30 August last year but due to floods In September, the highway suffered extensive damages at various locations along 26 kilometers including Barsoo, Lethpora and Pampore to Patha Chowk.
Following the devastating floods, he said, M/s Ramky Infrastructure Ltd was unable to undertake the maintenance works of critically damaged road stretches due to damage to its machinery, establishments at Lethpora, Lasjan and Semthan Bijbehara.
Consequently, he said, BRO was approached by NHAI and the urgent restoration of road was done through it to ensure to immediate ‘trafficability.’
Meanwhile, a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey while hearing a Public Interest Litigation directed Chief Engineer Roads and Building department Kashmir and Project head M/S Ramky Infrastructure Ltd to remain present before it next week.
The court also directed the Civil Society Tral, the petitioner, to file response to the report filed by the NHAI.
The court had previously directed authorities to take immediate steps for repairing ‘ditches’ on highway as well as ensure that traffic jams do not take place on the arterial road.
It had also directed the authorities particularly Chief Engineer R&B to repair the ditches from Srinagar to Qazigund in the first instance along with the strategic 300 kilometer thoroughfare.
However, Additional Advocate General of the state had informed it that while the Chief Engineer R&B Department was entrusted with the job of making patch work on the road, his job has now been withdrawn.
In the PIL filed by the civil society through advocate G N Shaheeen, it has been that alleged that the continuous ignorance has resulted in damages to the vehicles, physical and mental pain to public at large besides loss of precious lives in traffic accidents and frequent traffic jams.
As per traffic record, it said, 200 vehicles pass every five minutes on the highway.
The civil society has sought directions for repairing the Highway from Srinagar to Jammu especially from Banlhal to Srinagar and Srinagar to Baramulla.
It also seeks directions to macadamize the existing old NH1A to make it fit for vehicular traffic to the minimum international and national standards level to the convenience of general public at large.
It also seek directions to the government to constitute a team of experts to have physical spot inspection and conduct survey of NH1A and other link roads of Kashmir valley to assess the gravity of dilapidated condition of the roads and submit a detailed report with complete remedial suggestions in a time bound period.
The civil society also seeks direction for fixing liability of maintenance of the existing HH1A from Jammu to Srinagar for the purposes of maintenance and development, on war footing basis.