JK fails to keep NHAI on toes

The expansion of Srinagar-Jammu highway continues to be on at a snail’s pace. This is notwithstanding J&K government’s repeated assurances that it would keep the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) and its concessionaires on the toes.

JK fails to keep NHAI on toesA latest status report of the project has exposed the sluggish approach of the NHAI and its concessionaires—Ramky Infrastructure Private Limited and Navayuga Engineering Company—in widening the Srinagar-Qazigund and Qazigund-Banihal portions of the highway.

According to the report, 66-km Srinagar-Qazigund stretch of the mega project has recorded least physical progress among four

portions of the highway being widened at present. Till date, the stretch has just recorded just 38 percent progress even as June 2014 was its initial deadline.

Similar is the fate of Qazigund-Banihal portion, falling under the NHAI’s Srinagar-based Project Implementing Unit (PIU). The physical progress on this is meager 43 percent.

The project is nearing its May 2016 deadline.

On May 27 this year, Minister for Roads & Buildings Syed AltafBukhari had expressed serious concern over slow pace of work on the stretch.

He had directed the executing agency Navayuga Engineering Company to increase its work hours for timely completion of the project.

Apart from these two portions, the work on 32-km Banihal-Ramban and 40.7-km Ramban is yet to commence. In January this year, the Union Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs cleared Rs 3800 crore for widening of both the stretches.

On the other hand, Nashri-Chenani and Udhampur-Jammu portions are nearing completion with both respectively recording 74 and 95 percent physical progress.

When contacted, Director NHAI (Srinagar), Ashok Kumar told that land acquisition problems and last year’s floods are “primarily responsible for delay in the work.”

“We also faced number of obstructions in the project,” he said, adding the work is presently going at a “fast pace.”

He said  Ramky Infrastructure has approached NHAI for extending deadline of the project while Navayuga Engineering Company is in process to  seek  the same.

Last week, the State’s R&B Minister had told this newspaper that speedy completion of the project is among the top priorities of the PDP-BJP government.

On April 29, Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had raised concerns about slow pace of four-laning of the highway with the Union Roads Minister Nitin Gadkari at a meeting in New Delhi.

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