Srinagar/Jammu: Expressing dismay over the sluggish pace of work on the upgradation of the arduous Banihal-Ramban stretch of Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the Chief Secretary, B B Vyas today asked the executing agency to immediately flag the issues hampering the work so that the same are taken up at the appropriate level.
“We can’t afford to drag-on this key connectivity project endlessly. Enough time has been already lost and there has to be now tangible movement forward on providing all-weather connectivity to Kashmir valley with the rest of the country,” Mr Vyas told the executing agency during his on-the-spot visit of the project site today.
The Chief Secretary travelled from Srinagar to Jammu by road today to personally take stock of the road condition, snow clearance measures, disaster preparedness and progress of upgradation and developmental works of the arterial link enroute. He also took stock of the status of work on the Katra-Banihal rail link project.
The Chief Secretary was accompanied by Home Secretary, R K Goyal, Director General of Police, S P Vaid, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan, Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Dr Mandeep Bhandari, DC Ramban Tariq Hussain Ganai and other concerned officers.
During his visit, the Chief Secretary took on-the-spot review of the progress of work on 8.45 km long New Qazigund-Banihal road tunnel, Ramban-Nashri & Chenani-Udhampur stretches of the highway, Katra-Banihal rail link and other related connectivity projects.
Regarding, New Qazigund-Banihal road tunnel, the Chief Secretary was informed that 80% work is complete on the tunnel and it would be through for traffic next year, bringing down the travel time between Srinagar and Jammu considerably.
Regarding progress of work on Ramban-Nashri stretch, the Chief Secretary was informed that it involves construction of a bridge near Ramban market and some small tunnels and 35% work stands completed on the project.
Regarding Chenani-Udhampur stretch of the highway, the Chief Secretary was informed that work is going on at full pace and it would be completed within the set timeframe.
The Chief Secretary asked the executing agencies and the concerned coordinating departments to address the bottlenecks, if any, at the earliest so that there is no delay in the execution of the projects. He asked the concerned DCs to directly bring into his notice the issues like forest clearance, land acquisition and other matters were any intervention at the highest level is required to address the same.
The Chief Secretary asked the concerned agencies to put their men and machinery ready to ensure that no extended disruption is caused in the traffic movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway due to inclement weather conditions.
Earlier during the day, the Chief Secretary took a detailed review of the winter-preparedness and other related arrangements at Anantnag.
The Chief Secretary visited the Mechanical Division Khannabal where he took stock of the preparations made for the snow clearance.
District Development Commissioner Anantnag Mohammad Younis Malik informed the Chief Secretary that 19 functional snow cutters are available in the Mechanical Division Khannabal in addition to other requisite machinery. He said snow cutters and other machines have been deployed at Sangam, Pahalgam, Dooru and Kokernag.
The Chief Secretary was informed that, a 24×7 Control Room has been established at the Mechanical Division Khannabal to press into service men and machinery wherever required.
The Chief Secretary also visited the Civil Defence Lines at Khannabal to review the preparedness of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).