Srinagar: On Monday the government announced the opening of Qazigund and Awantipora bypasses on Srinagar-Jammu highway for traffic making the Srinagar-Qazigund section of the Jammu-Srinagar expressway fully operational. This move though believed to reduce the travel time between Srinagar and Qazigund will also help in reducing the travel time on the NH1 between Jammu and Srinagar.
The commissioning of all the four key stretches of the highway including Pampore Bypass, Awantipora Bypass, Bijbehara Bypass and Qazigund Bypass has ensured the travel time between Srinagar and Qazigund will be just around 1 hour now, bypassing all the traffic bottlenecks.
Though this is just the beginning of a new era where travel time needs to be reduced between Srinagar and Jammu, the government should focus on improving the road connectivity in the state as we seem to be lagging behind in this sector.
The commissioning of 8.5 KM long new Banihal-Qazigund two-tube tunnel should be on the governments list now and the tunnel which is progressing on works front should be made operational by the end of this year. For this the executing agencies need to be informed well in time and they need to be taken on board for ensuring the completion of this vital project on time.
The commissioning of the Qazigund-Awantipor stretch of the NH1 highway though being commendable, but the moot question about the progress of work on the major patches in the Banihal and Ramban sectors is still a worrisome factor.
The four lanning of the NH1 is still pending in the most difficult terrain areas of Ramban and Banihal sector which has already missed out on several deadlines. The importance of this stretch can be gauged by the fact that how important this sector is as this sector is vulnerable to landslides and shooting stones which hamper the movement of traffic on the stretch and makes travel quite a daunting task during bad weather conditions.
Just last week the highway remained closed for almost five days leaving commuters in a distressed state both in Jammu as well as in Srinagar.
Road connectivity is a crucial aspect in our state and this aspect cannot be ignored at all. The state’s various regions have been demanding better road connectivity in order to move ahead and be partners in development and growth.
The case in point is the construction of Zoji La tunnel which if completed will it make possible for the people of Leh and Kargil region to have round the year connectivity between Ladakh and Srinagar. At present Zoji La pass standing at the height of over 11,000 feet remains closed for six months of the year owing to heavy snow and harsh winter. The project of making a tunnel in the Zoji La was being talked about in various circles for quite some time now.
The tunnel is expected to be 14.150 km long, 2-lane bi-directional with total capital cost of the project to the tune of Rs 6,808.69 crore. This will be the longest tunnel in India and perhaps in Asia.
Similarly, other hilly region areas like the Chenab Valley and far flung areas like Tangdar and Karna too need immediate attention from the government. These areas are the worst sufferer as far as road connectivity goes. So addressing their grievances should be on government’s priority list.