In a veiled attack on opposition National Conference, Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Wednesday said the Srinagar-Jammu highway has faced neglect after 1947 but he was glad to see Prime Minister Narendra Modi taking interest in the ‘State’s only road lifeline.” Mufti said the widening of the highway would be completed within 18 months.
The CM was replying to calling attention motion by Congress legislator G M Saroori during the zero hour in the Legislative Assembly. “Unfortunately Srinagar-Jammu highway which is the only lifeline between Kashmir and the rest of the country has not been consolidated,” Mufti said. “It was in 2003, when the then Prime Minister expressed interest in developing J&K highways that some attention was paid to it. Ironically, our highway gets closed only after a few drops of rain.”
Mufti said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been monitoring the construction of the highway. “He has chaired a meeting on this issue as well in which the contract of Srinagar-Qazigund highway stretch was cancelled and the new contractor been assigned the job,” Mufti said. “In the next one-and-a-half-year, Srinagar-Jammu highway should be fully functional. Government of India has decided to complete the project on fast track basis.”
On the Doda-Kishtwar road, Mufti said the government has taken this project on top priority. “Batote-Doda-Kishtwar road is one of the top priorities of the State government,” he said.
Earlier, replying to the motion moved by Saroori, R&B Minister Muhammad Altaf Bukhari said the total length of Batote-Anantnag road is 265.80 kms. “The stretch between Batote and Sinthan top is 193 kms that falls in the jurisdiction of R&B department Jammu and from Sinthan top to Anantnag the road falls in the jurisdiction of R&B Kashmir,” Bukhari said. “The R&B department initiated the process of taking over the highway from Border Roads Organisation (BRO) and 184 Kms of the road was taken over in January 2015. The process of taking over the remaining stretch of the road from Sinthan top to Anantnag (79 kms) could not be completed because of the area being snow bound.”
Bukhari said the improvement and the maintenance of the road has been entrusted to National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. “The R&B department had restored the road during winter months and detailed estimates for its restoration are Rs 607.28 lakh which stand submitted to the NHIDCL. The moment funds would be released, work would be started,” he said.