Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha has announced that Kashmir will be connected to Kanyakumari by train by next year-end.
Sinha made the announcement after laying the foundation stone for four national highway projects worth ₹3,612 crores in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Srinagar Ring Road project.
Union minister of road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari was also present at the function on Monday evening.
“By December 2022, Kashmir will be connected to Kanyakumari by train. Besides, the national highway projects will catalyse the overall socio-economic development of the Union Territory,” Sinha said.
Strengthening road infrastructure
The projects include strengthening and upgrading 43km of the existing carriageway on the Baramulla-Gulmarg section of National Highway-701A; the construction of a new double lane bypass from Donipawa via Ashajipora connecting NH-244 and NH-44; the construction and upgrade of a 28km stretch from Vailoo to Donipawa on the Khellani-Khanabal section of NH-244, besides the construction of the much-awaited Ring Road around Srinagar city.
The lieutenant governor said that from national highways to rural roads, the infrastructure in the UT had become stronger than ever. “Till 2014, there were only seven national highways in erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir, including Ladakh. In 2021, the number of national highways has increased to 11 in J&K alone. In 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced road infra projects worth ₹40,900 crores for J&K, out of which work on projects of about ₹38,000 crores is underway,” he said.
11 tunnel projects approved for J&K
He said that Jammu and Kashmir today have the distinction of being the third UT in the country in terms of road construction. Sinha said that with liberal funding and special interest of the Prime Minister and the Union minister for road transport and highways in the development of Jammu and Kashmir, 11 tunnel projects have been approved for J&K in one year alone.
“Four tunnels will be built on the Chenani-Kishtwar highway at a cost of ₹10,000 crores. To modernise the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, tunnels at a cost of ₹4,000 crores, besides five flyovers worth ₹3,000 crores will be built in J&K, reducing the travel time and traffic congestion substantially,” he said.
Road connectivity key driver of growth
Gadkari termed road connectivity as a key driver of socio-economic growth and development of any region. “The new projects will further strengthen the road connectivity in J&K, opening up new livelihood avenues for the local population, enhancing tourism and business activities besides improving the quality of life of the people,” he said.
Gadkari said it’s his endeavor is to decrease the time travel between major cities. “Be it Delhi-Jammu or Jammu-Srinagar, the time to travel will get reduced to half by providing expressways and better road connectivity. Mega highways and tunnel projects will reduce the travel time from Delhi to Kashmir by eight hours in the coming years,” he said.
The Union minister said that the long-pending Srinagar Ring Road project will be ready by 2023-end. Work on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway will be completed in three years.