Srinagar: The J&K High Court came down heavily on government and RAMKY Infrastructure Ltd over dilapidated condition of Srinagar-Jammu highway, observing that nothing has been done to ameliorate the thoroughfare, the lone surface link connecting Kashmir Valley to the outside world.
As soon as the hearing in a Public Interest Litigation, filed by civil society Tral, started before a division bench of Justices Muzaffar Hussain Attar and Ali Mohammad Magrey, Advocate General R A Jan sought some weeks to improve the condition of the highway, submitting that the things cannot be worked out overnight.
“It’s primarily your duty (to have better roads for people) and we are monitoring that you are not doing anything. You see there are a number of PILs which actually speak volumes about misgovernance. Otherwise judicial work is getting affected,” the bench responded.
“I share the concern of the court and want to assure yours lordship (the bench) that we will do our best to restore the highway to the satisfaction of people as soon as weather improves,” Jan submitted.
“Have you seen roads in state like Shimla where there is similar weather?” the bench asked.
“Check the assets of your engineers, bureaucrats and you can actually construct flyovers
from that money only. You must have laws to confiscate this ill-gotten money,” the bench further said, emphasizing that everybody has to leave this world “empty handed and their children would be not be benefitted by the ill-gotten money.”
“Everybody must remember that one has to be accountable for every deed here in the world hereafter,” the bench said.
The Advocate General submitted the government was taking serious steps in ameliorating the thoroughfare for the commuters who travel on it.
“The government at the highest level has taken serious note of the road condition and immediate steps would be taken to ensure that Jammu-Srinagar highway and other roads are made travel worthy,” he said and assured the court that the grievances projected in the PIL would be redressed.
“At request (of advocate general), list (the PIL) in the week commencing from 25 May 2015,” the court said. It also exempted Chief Engineer R&B from personal appearance till further orders.
In the interests of the commuters, the court also directed the traffic department to devise a method for avoiding traffic jams on the highway, most particularly from Qazigund to Srinagar.
Meanwhile, the court also chided the RAMKY Infrastructure Ltd, executing agency of National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) for four-lane express highway from Qazigund-Srinagar.
The agency’s vice president and Chief Manager, who were present in person, had no answers to court queries and they candidly admitted that the condition of the highway was deplorable.
They also gave an undertaking in the court that the road from Srinagar to Qazigund will be restored and made operational so as to enable the commuters to have convenient and hassle free travel.
Subject to weather condition, they said, the road from Srinagar to Qazigund will be made travel worthy within 10 days time. The court took their statement on record and directed them to file compliance report before next of hearing in the PIL.
The court had ordered their presence as many advocates besides the petitioner raised issues about the deplorable condition of the Srinagar-Qazigund road. The advocates had stated that the distance, which otherwise would be covered within one and a half hour, takes 5-6 hours because of the bad road condition.
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.
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.
The society 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 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.