Jammu, Dec 15: Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam Tuesday chaired a meeting to review the progress of Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link Project that will connect Kashmir valley with the rest of the country through a year-round-all-weather railway link.
The meeting, according to an official spokesperson, was informed that the project to connect Kashmir with a railway line is progressing as per its schedule. Currently, the executing agency has fully utilized the extraction potential of sand and aggregate material in the allocated mines under its Short Term Permit – the supply of which needs augmentation from other mines.
The Chief Secretary said that the Mining Department has recently streamlined the process of lease of mines in J&K and consequently, the supply of construction material will improve in the coming weeks.
Further, to ensure the uninterrupted supply of construction material, the Mining Department and Deputy Commissioners were asked to regularly monitor the extraction from leased mines, besides, resolving the bottlenecks in a time-bound manner.
Regarding the land requirement for the project, it was informed that 99% of the land has been acquired/ handed over to the executing agency and the civil works are advancing smoothly. Deputy Commissioners were asked to resolve all pending issues by January 15.
Other issues regarding the launch of Vistadome by Northern Railways, introducing shuttle services between Banihal and Udhampur and running of local passenger trains between Katra and Kathua were also discussed.
The Chief Secretary also appreciated the prompt response of Northern Railways during COVID-19 lockdown and their joint efforts with the Government of J&K in providing smooth and hassle-free travel to labour/workforce through the special ‘Shramik’ trains.
Administrative Secretaries of departments of Revenue, Power Development, Mining, and Transport, besides General Manager, Northern Railways, and representatives from IRCON participated in the meeting.
Land acquisition process for NH-444 in Shopian reviewed
Srinagar: Deputy Commissioner Shopian Sachin Kumar Vaishya Tuesday held a meeting to review the land acquisition process for NH-444 within the stipulated time frame in the district.
The National Highway-444 is an alternate highway to NH-44. It starts at Qazigund in Jammu and Kashmir and ends in Srinagar, passing via district Kulgam, Shopian and Pulwama.
The meeting held a detailed review of the present status of the land acquisition process and discussed the steps required for removing the bottlenecks for the timely completion of the process.
He advised all the concerned officers to complete the land acquisition process for NH-444 in Shopian within a few days.
Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mushtaq Ahmad Simnani; Assistant commissioner Revenue, Shahbaz Ahmad Bodha; Tehsildar Shopian, LDM, Executive Engineer R&B 1st Division Srinagar, Naib Tehsildars and other concerned officers attended the meeting.
The general public in the twin districts of Shopian and Kulgam have requested the administration for completing the demarcation of the land for the national highway at the earliest, as the ambiguity of road tracts at certain places is creating confusion among them.
Editorial: Srinagar needs public transport
‘A developed city is not a place, where the poor have cars, it’s where the rich use public transportation’
The traffic situation in the city has turned into a complete mess. The number of vehicles is swelling day by day whereas most of the roads see no expansion, resulting in frequent jams and lots of inconvenience to the general public.
Srinagar, which has been categorised as one of the 53 metropolitans with its population touching about two million people, will be an only city without any functional public transport. The smart city tag, which often the administration adds to Srinagar, looks sham.
Government with tall claims to develop the city on ‘international lines’ and make it as one of the prime tourist locations in the global map is giving little attention to building the road network and proper transportation system, which is considered the nerve centre of any vibrant city. The most important components of a liveable and environmentally sustainable city is a properly designed, efficient and affordable public transport system.
But here whole public transportation system of the city has been left to the beck and call of few transport associations – mostly owning minibuses unfit for ferrying public – who run it on their will, without keeping public convenience in view. Government has handed over complete control of the city’s public transport to those who have no accountability to general public. And even the number of these ‘mini-buses’ is dwindling each year.
Srinagar is the only city, which does not run Road Transport vehicles for the public, except for few electric buses introduced a year or so ago. A huge RTC fleet is staying idle, which could otherwise ease people’s lives and earn some money as well.
There is no Transport Authority, to govern the city traffic, plan for the roads and make policies for public transportation system. Transport and road planning gets marred between more than half a dozen government departments and bodies including traffic police, SMC, Srinagar Development Authority, R&B etc.
There have been a number of studies saying that public transport is more sustainable, occupies less road space and causes less pollution per passenger than personal vehicles. Government has no reason for not running RTC buses on some of the city roads, if not all. A good public transport system will automatically ease out the traffic on roads, as a number of people will prefer cost-effective mass transit instead of their own vehicles.
The transport system of the city needs to be managed by a single agency, which can work on a public-private partnership basis. All the privately owned bus operators, who work under different association banners but are accountable to none, can comply with the agency for having a proper route and timing plan.
City authorities can also benefit from various central schemes, which provides a number of incentives and investment support for building “high capacity public transport systems” in state capitals.
The metro rail project is a good step in the direction of the sustained public transport system for the Srinagar city, but one, it will take many years to become operational as the work is yet to commence. Second, the metro rail network will need to be aided with the well build bus network.
To see lesser traffic jams on Srinagar roads, make the size and number of the buses bigger.
Banihal-Qazigund highway tunnel likely to complete by March
Banihal, Jan 3: The work on the Rs 2100-crore project started in June 2011 by Navyuga engineering company and on completion would reduce the road distance between Banihal in Jammu province and Qazigund in south Kashmir by 16 km from the present 35 km and will bypass Jawahar Tunnel and Shaitan Nalla, which is prone to heavy snowfall and slippery conditions during winters.
“The work within and outside is in the final stage and we are hopeful to throw it open for traffic in the last week of March,” Chief Manager, Navayuga Engineering Company, Muneeb Tak said here.
The existing road tunnel below the Banihal pass (Jawahar tunnel — the gateway to Kashmir) has been a bottleneck on the nearly 265-km highway, the only all weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country, due to its elevation of 2,194 m (7,198 ft) and limited traffic capacity.
The new tunnel”s average elevation at 1,790 m (5,870 ft) is 400 m lower than the existing Jawahar tunnel”s elevation, which would make it less prone to avalanches and fulfils the dream of the expressway between Srinagar and Banihal.
Tak said the tunnel is a masterpiece of engineering and has been constructed from Austrian tunnelling method (ATM).
“The tunnel has been built on the Build Operate and Transfer Base System with a state of the art exhaust system to remove gas and bring in the fresh air.”
He said 126 jet fans, 234 CCTV modern cameras and a firefighting system are being installed in both tubes of the tunnel for which the work is underway.
“A corridor between two tubes after every 500 meters inside the tunnel has been built and this can be used in case of any emergency in either tube,” Tak said.
The work on the tunnel was delayed for several reasons in the past 10 years and many deadlines were missed due to the unexpected land condition inside the tunnel, alleged financial crisis in the construction company and some issues related to local landlords and company workers, which led to a number of work shutdowns in the tunnel project. PTI
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