Srinagar: Of the 3,000 kms of road length that suffered extensive damages in the 2014 flood and during the winter, only 700 kms will be macadamized during the ongoing fiscal because of the scanty annual budget earmarked for the road sector in the Valley.
Kashmir Reader has learnt that the Roads and Buildings Department has sought funds from the government for blacktopping about 1,000 kilometers of road, which would cost around Rs 500 crore. But at the most, the government will cough up about Rs 400 crore, which, the department says it will utilise for macadamisation of 700 kilometers (leaving 2,300 kilometers unpaved). But even the 700-km stretch that will be macadamised would not meet the standards.
Chief engineer Satish Razdan said the government is facing financial constraints because other sectors also require funds. “3,000 kilometers of roads are damaged and need to be blacktopped. But we won’t cover the entire length. We can only cover about 700-1,000 kilometers,” he said.
Last year, when PDP minister Syed Altaf Bukhari headed the R&B ministry, about 1,400 kilometers of roads were paved in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir alone. But the government is yet to clear all the outstanding dues of contractors, who blacktopped the roads.
This year, Razdan said, the blacktopping of damaged roads would begin by the end of this month, as bad weather did not allow the department to take up the repair work earlier. But actually, it was learnt the delay in repairing the roads was also due to non-clearance of the government’s annual budget. The government would likely approve the budget next month.
Earlier, the funds cleared during Governor’s rule were utilised for clearing the outstanding dues of last year’s work. “The department is waiting for plan approval for this season,” Razdan said.
Minister for R&B Abdul Rehman Veeri said he would seek additional funding from Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. “We will seek extra funds as the roads sector is a priority for the government. We will take up macadamisation or repairing of roads on a priority basis,” he said.