Kashmir Indepth

Non-completion of 3 dev projects hampers Kashmir’s growth 

Irfan Ahmad

Srinagar Sep 30(KINS): The non completion of three major projects has been hampering the economic growth of Kashmir valley.

Kashmir often remains cut off with the rest of the country during winters.

The Valley is incurring heavy losses due to closure of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, the only road connecting region with rest of the world. At the same time, the government has failed to complete major developmental projects in Kashmir, which could have helped Kashmir to remain accessible with the rest of the world, and helped its economy to grow. 

It has been 16-years since the centre approved construction of tunnel on the Mughal Road, but the project is yet to see the ray of the light.

The project was approved in 2004, when the PDP shared power with Congress in the erstwhile state. The proposal was for a seven-kilometer long tunnel between Zaznar and Chathapani at 3000 meters altitude on the 230-year-old Mughal road.

However, the work is going at snail’s pace, resulting the 84-kilometer road remains close every year almost for five months. It not only stops vehicular services but also hampers the business, which started between the two regions when the road was repaired and made functional again.

“The construction of the tunnel would have made the Mughal Road all weather road,” an official of Roads and Development Department, said.  “There has been undue delay in construction of the tunnel, which would have enable round-the-year connectivity on historic Mughal Road,” the official told news agency Kashmir Indepth News Service (KINS).

The Mughal Road, which goes through Shopian to Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu, lies close since November every year.

“Whenever there is any downpour the highway remains closed. Had the government constructed the tunnel on the Mughal Road, it would have saved us from losses,” Bashir Ahmad, a fruit grower from Shopian, said.

Another fruit grower from Shopian said that the opening of the Mughal Road brought new opportunities for business and cultural exchange between the two regions. “But this road remains close during the winter months due to non-construction of the tunnel,” he added.

Similarly, the construction of four-laning Srinagar-Banihal road link has missed multiple deadlines.

The four-laning Jammu-Udhampur link has been completed long ago and work on the expansion of road beyond Udhampur is underway. But the Srinagar-Banihal four laning is yet to be completed.

Similarly, a railway line up to Udhampur on Jammu side was completed a long ago but rail network sanctioned in 1995, which would connect Kashmir with other states, is still far from completion.

In the past 25 years, this project has faced cost overrun of over Rs 25000 crore.  The Jammu-Srinagar railway link was declared a “national project” in 2002 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s government and August 15, 2007 was fixed deadline for its completion.

Meanwhile, a senior official said, “The process for completion of all developmental works has been expedited. Besides the issue has been raised with concerned authorities for completion of projects,” he added.(KINS)

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