Work on Baramulla highway at snail’s pace

Work on Baramulla highway at snail’s paceEven as the High Court has sought fortnightly periodical progress reports from Beacon, the work on the widening of the 7.5-km stretch of the Srinagar-Baramulla highway is going on at a snail’s pace. Though the executing agency has set the deadline of May 31 this year to complete the works and open the highway stretch for vehicular traffic, the Beacon authorities said blacktopping of the stretch would commence from the second week of March.
The work on the four-laning of the 7.5-km-long stretch from Parimpora to Narbal was allotted to Project Beacon by the Union Government seven years ago in 2007. However, the stretch is yet to be completed and since then Beacon has missed several deadlines.
Taking a serious note of the slow pace of work by the executing agency, the J&K High Court had on January 5 directed Beacon to complete the works on the stretch by May 31. However, despite the court’s monitoring and improved weather conditions during this winter, the Beacon appears to have gone slow. It is still engaged with laying non-bituminous layers and blacktopping is yet to start.
With vehicular traffic still not resuming on the new, but incomplete lanes, the result is daily traffic jams, particularly at the busy intersections and bottlenecks.
“For almost a decade now, this stretch is still under construction. It seems an unending process,” said Tariq Ahmad, a daily commuter from north Kashmir. He said traffic jams on this highway beyond Narbal and HMT Chowk had become a norm now. “The condition worsens one the Durbar moves back to Kashmir and tourist inflow to north Kashmir resort of Gulmarg witnesses a flip,” he added. On the other hand, the Beacon authorities said they were sticking to the schedule. “The non-bituminus work is almost complete now. From 2nd week of March, we will also start blacktopping from HMT Chowk onwards. Besides, we will also remove bottlenecks near Tata Fairdeal showroom,” said Brigadier Ashih Kumar Das, Chief Engineer, Beacon, which is executing the highway widening project.
However, claims by Beacon notwithstanding, the facts on the ground speak otherwise. The service lanes on both sides of the highway are yet to be completed. Besides, the central divider is yet to be constructed and its earth filling has also not commenced yet. “We are not yet touching the service lanes as it is going to take time. For the time being, we are focussed with completing the highway,” Das said.

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