Project to widen Sonwar-Pampore road stands ‘nullified’

PDP-BJP govt had announced the project in state assembly 4 years ago

Anantnag: Four years after the J&K revenue minister announced on the floor of the state assembly that the narrow Sonwar-Pampore stretch of the national highway-1A would be widened to six lanes, the project has been shelved without any work done.
The Sonwar-Pampore stretch of the national highway remains the busiest in terms of traffic despite the opening of NH-44 some two years ago. The opening of NH-44 has, in fact, had almost no bearing on the traffic congestion as the Panthachowk-Sonwar route remains the gateway to Srinagar.
The decision regarding six-laning of the road was taken in 2016 by the then People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) coalition government.
An announcement was made on the floor of the J&K state assembly by the then Minister for Revenue, Syed Basharat Bukhari, that the road will be widened from Sonwar to Galenadar, on the outskirts of Pampore town.
“The widening will ease the pressure on the stretch and reduce traffic jams at Sonwar, Panthachowk and Pampore,” Bukhari had said. “A detailed project report has already been prepared for the execution of the project,” he said.
The project was officially estimated to cost Rs 342.6 crore.
Four years went by since the announcement but no work was done on the road. Sources in the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department say that the project has already been shelved.
“It’s a huge project and funding would be a major obstacle. Moreover, most part of the road cuts through the army cantonment area of Badamibagh. There are concerns regarding that as well,” a source in the R&B department told Kashmir Reader.
Moreover, he claimed, the new NH-44 has considerably reduced the traffic flow on this stretch.
Commuters disagree with this claim. “The local traffic, most of it, plies through Pampore and not the NH-44. Even if someone travels through the new highway, he will have to take the Panthachowk-Sonwar route to reach Srinagar. The road has remained as congested,” said Gulzar Ahmad, a cab driver who shuttles between Anantnag and Srinagar on daily basis.
Even the ambulances that have to reach Srinagar often get stuck in heavy traffic along this particular stretch of the highway.
Several commuters that Kashmir Reader talked to said they were greatly dismayed by government’s complacency over the issue.
“The NH-44 serves no purpose unless this bottle-neck is cleared,” commuters said.
Director Planning at the R&B department, Athar Qadri, said that the road is no longer a part of the NH and has been handed over to the state government for maintenance and related matters.
“The earlier proposal, hence, stands nullified. We will have to look into the matter afresh now for it is a huge project and requires hefty funding,” Qadri said.
He said that a new DPR will be compiled soon and things will be decided after that.

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