GoI ‘gives cold shoulder’ to proposals on JK tunnels

The Government of India has given ‘cold shoulder’ to J&K government’s proposals to fund construction of tunnels in the State to provide round-the-year connectivity to far-flung and inaccessible areas.

GoI ‘gives cold shoulder’ to proposals on JK tunnelsAn official document reveals that GoI has “advised” the state government to “explore alternatives to tunnels”, citing their “high cost and time consumption.”

“Minister of Road, Transport and Highways mentioned that construction of tunnels are very time consuming and involves a high capital cost, so alternative to tunnels may be explored by state,” minutes of a meeting held between J&K’s Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed and Union Minister for Road, Transport and Highways NitinGadkari in New Delhi earlier this year, read.

Minister for Roads & Buildings, Syed AltafBukhari, Commissioner/Secretary R&B, RohitKansal, top officials of National Highways Authority of India and the Border Roads Organization (BRO) also participated in the meeting that was called to discuss J&K’s road infrastructure and allied issues.

The GoI’s remarks have come at a time when the state government is strongly pushing the case for central funding to undertake construction of some tunnels.

The incumbent regime, like its predecessor, has failed to get any assurance from the Centre over construction of a tunnel on Mughal Road—which connects Kashmir with Poonch district in Jammu via Shopian—to make it an all-weather route.

The construction of the tunnel is also part of the PDP-BJP’s Agenda of the Alliance—the framework guiding the working of the state government.

On October 10, 2013, then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah informed the Legislative Council that he had sought intervention of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for construction of a tunnel on the Mughal Road.

“The State government has forwarded the Detailed Project Report of the tunnel to the Planning Commission, Government of India, and the Chief Minister vide D.O No. PW(R&B) Plan/35/2012 dated 04.10.2013 has sought the personal intervention of the Prime Minister GOI, for positive consideration of the proposal at an earliest,” Omar had said.

Apart from Mughal Road tunnel, the state government is also looking into the possibilities of getting external funding for constructing six more tunnels in the State. These include tunnels on Kishtwar-Islamabad (Anantnag), Lolab-Bandipora, Doda- Dessa-Kapran routes.

The state government, as informed in the Legislative Assembly earlier this year, has sought their funding from Japan International Cooperation Agency.

“The state government has submitted the proposals to Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for recommending them to Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance for external funding,” sources said, adding, however, there is no word from GoI on the matter till date.

Of late, the state government has also mooted a proposal to construct tunnel on Gupkar road in Srinagar to decongest The Boulevard.

Last week, Minister for R&B Syed AltafBukhari discussed the modalities for construction of tunnels on Mughal road and Gupkar road with SP Infra Ltd, an official spokesman said.

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