Chief Secretary dismayed over sluggish highway expansion

Expressing his dismay over sluggish pace of work on upgradation of Banihal-Ramban stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu highway, J&K’s chief secretary B B Vyas on Monday asked the executing agency to immediately flag the issues hampering the work for their redressal at appropriate levels.
“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 with the rest of the country,” Vyas, according to an official spokesman, told the executing agency officials during his spot visit to the project site on Monday.
The chief secretary travelled from Srinagar to Jammu by road to take stock of the road condition, snow clearance measures, disaster preparedness and progress of up-gradation and developmental works on the arterial link en-route, the spokesman said. He also took stock of the status of work on Katra-Banihal rail link project.
The chief secretary was accompanied by home secretary RK Goyal; director general of police SP Vaid; divisional commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan; divisional commissioner Jammu, Dr. Mandeep Bhandari; deputy commissioner Ramban Tariq Hussain Ganai and other concerned officers.
During his visit, the chief secretary took spot review of the progress of work on 8.45-km New Qazigund-Banihal road tunnel, Ramban-Nashri and 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, the spokesman said.
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 spokesman added.
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 deputy commissioners to directly bring into his notice the issues like forest clearance, land acquisition and other matters where any intervention at the highest level is required.
The chief secretary asked the concerned agencies to put their men and machinery ready to ensure that no extended disruption is caused in traffic movement on Srinagar-Jammu highway due to inclement weather conditions.

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