With three missed deadlines, widening of Srinagar-Qazigund highway lingers on for ages
ANANTNAG: Six years after the work on widening of Srinagar-Banihal stretch of Srinagar Jammu highway began, no traces of the completion of the ambitious project are anywhere in sight. The executing agency has already missed three deadlines for the completion the project.
The project was allotted to Hyderabad based Construction Company, RAMKY infrastructure in 2010 and the work was started in May 2011. National highways authority of India (NHAI) at the time of awarding the contract to RAMKY set December 2014 as deadline for the completion of the project. However the agency missed the deadline citing the delay in the settlement of land acquisition cases by the administration as the reason. The NHAI later extended the deadline by one year asking the executing agency to complete the project by December 2015.
For missing the second deadline, the agency defended itself citing the devastating September 2014 floods as the reason. However, taking serious note of the delay, the Jammu and Kashmir high court set July 2016 as the final deadline for the completion of the project. But nearly seven months after missing the third deadline the project remains far from completion with officials of the construction company blaming the 2016 mass uprising for the delay.
Top officials in the administration said that the executing agency has been making lame excuses to cover its failures.
“It is irony that the executing agency is making all the lame excuses to justify its failures. Around 95 percent land acquisition cases were settled in less than three years after the project took off. But the work on the widening project drags on for over six years,” said a top official.
The agency, he said, now blaming the 2016 uprising was highly ironical. “RAMKY was supposed to complete the project by 31 July and the agitation started on July 9 which means that 99 percent of the project should have been completed by then,” the official said.
Though the state authorities many a time lodged complaint with the concerned ministry in the centre and grilled the RAMKY top officials during top level meetings but an official said that the executing agency never bothered to speed up the work on the project.
“RAMKY seems to be working on the project on its own will. The NHAI has also failed to take the company to task despite repeated complaints lodged by the state,” the official said.
Sources in RAMKY said that the financial crisis in the company caused delay in the completion of the widening project.
“The reality is that the company has been facing worst financial crisis thus delaying the work on the project. The company suffered such a huge financial crisis that they terminated contract with most of the drivers whose vehicles it had hired initially,” an official who worked in the company told Kashmir Reader.
The company, he said, also delayed payments to local sub-contractors. “Most of the A- class contractors or firms who would have carried out the work on a fast pace later were hesitant to take sub-contracts from the company,” the former official of the company said.
Pertinently the work on the Jammu-Udhampur stretch of the highway on which the work was started the same year was completed a year before the deadline. The contract for the widening of the stretch had been awarded to Mumbai based construction company AFCON.
An official stationed at the office of RAMKY at Lasjan refused to comment on the issue.
“I am not authorised to speak to anyone. Another official who is on leave these days is the right person you can talk to,” the official said. “You can talk to him at his office once he returns”, the official said without providing the contact details of the relant officer.