Vijay Gupta. Dated: 2/13/2023 12:23:40 PM

roads, tunnels to transform the economy of UT

VIJAY GUPTA Jammu, Feb 12 The priority of a self-reliant Jammu & Kashmir is modern infrastructure and modern connectivity. Union Territory headed by Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha is witnessing a new era of highway development and strategic tunnels as the construction of roads has increased after the scrapping of Article 370 on August 5, 2019. To ensure sustained economic growth and social upliftment, roads play an important role in national integration. Connectivity holds the key to economic prosperity and the Prime Minister Narendra Modi is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that the issue of J&K’s connectivity with the rest of the country gets resolved once in for all. From 6.54 kilometres to 20.6 kilometres a day, the total length of roads in Jammu and Kashmir has touched more than 41,141 kilometres and the pace is increasing each day. Under the dynamic leadership of LG Manoj Sinha and total support from Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari, projects worth Rs one lakh crore works of highways and tunnels are going on in Jammu and Kashmir. This includes the strategic Zojila tunnel in the Union Territory of Ladakh, formally a part of erstwhile J&K state. Besides construction of various National Highways, roads and tunnels in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has proposed several new Highways in the Union Territory. Many such works are also under construction in the Union Territory of Ladakh. As per the officials, three of the six tunnels, including the strategic ZMorh tunnel are expected to be completed by mid-2023 which is likely to bring J&K and Ladakh closer to mainland India and pave the way for the development of the entire Himalayan region in coming decades. Four of the six tunnels are coming up on National Highway-244, connecting Jammu to Anantnag. They are the Khellani tunnel, Shuddhmadev- Dranga tunnel and Singhpora-Vailoo tunnel. Once the four tunnels are ready, travel time between Jammu and Anantnag will reduce from the current 11-12 hours to 6 hours. The remaining two tunnels on NH-1 — the strategically crucial Zojila and Z-Morh — will provide all-weather road connectivity between Srinagar and Kargil. During the past three years, PWD has witnessed massive reforms, which include the implementation of J&K PWD Engineering Manual 2021, formulation of Road Maintenance Policy-2021, J&K Macadamization (execution and quality control) and DLP Enforcement Manual, SOP for regular departmental actions, introduction of online management monitoring accounting system, introduction of two-party quality control mechanism, introduction of Tameer Taraqqi and Hamari Sadak mobile Apps. Regular review meetings are held under Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha for ongoing works being carried out by National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) & National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd. (NHIDCL) projects in J&K UT and steps have been taken to resolve various issues related to projects. The administration is giving utmost priority to infrastructure development in the Union Territory and various steps are being taken for timely completion of ongoing projects. Increased pace of macadamization of roads and growing road length indicate how rapidly erstwhile state has developed since 2019. According to official data, road length in Jammu and Kashmir has increased to 41,141 kilometres and the percentage of blacktop roads has reached 74 per cent as compared to 66 per cent in 2019. As per the data, under the potholefree road programme, a target of 5,900 kilometres was made for 2021-22 of which 4,600 kilometres of road length have been made pothole-free so far. The Union Territory was last year ranked among the top three at the national level for construction of road length per year under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) as the PWD constructed PMGSY road length of 3,284 kms in 2021-22 and connected 114 habitations through road networks by executing 427 schemes in a year. J&K improved its performance for construction of road length per year since 2019 as its ranking advanced from 12th to 9th in 2019-20 and then third for the consecutive years 2020- 21 and 2021-2022. All habitations, with over 1,000 population as per the 2011 census, have been provided road connectivity. The provision of road connectivity for the habitations with 500 population by 2022-23 is also being taken up. The special status enjoyed by the erstwhile J&K had acted as the biggest impediment in the road development with the common man being the biggest sufferer. The scrapping of Article 370 led to the common man becoming a priority. Following the scrapping of Article 370, the central government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has taken drastic steps to ensure that common people get all the benefits of the developmental initiatives taken by the government. Many development projects that were in limbo or incomplete have become a reality and many more are likely to come up in the next few years. During the past four years, J&K has become like other parts of the country as connectivity has improved. The citizens are getting what they deserve. Proper road connectivity is the lifeline of any region and J&K after August 5, 2019, is moving closer towards the best possible connectivity. Connecting inaccessible habitations The schemes like Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY), Bridge Programme, Central Road & Infrastructure fund (CRIF), NABARD, Road Sector, Cities & Towns (Macdamization), Languishing Projects and Pothole Free Road schemes etc are being implemented in letter and spirit. Under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), the Jammu and Kashmir government has eased public living to a great extent. Union Territory is yielding positive results in various sectors including Education, Employment, and Medicine in the public sphere as the people here were facing a lot of problems due to the absence of roads. Road transport is one of the most cost effective and convenient modes of transportation in India both for freight and passengers as it has a high penetration level with door-to-door delivery. Importance of road infrastructure is widely recognized as a potent means of socio-economic integration and is vital for the economic development of the country. The total road network in India is 6.4 million kilometres comprising national & state highways and urban & rural roads. National highways account for 2% of the total road network and carry over 40% of total traffic. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took a historic decision on August 2019, of ending Articles 370 and 35A in Jammu & Kashmir, development efforts have picked up in the UT of J&K. The Government has, since 2019, initiated measures to strengthen the road infrastructure which have begun to show results. The implementation of the Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) that was announced on 7 November 2015 at a cost of Rs 80,068 crore has been accelerated. Projects pertaining to 15 Ministries are being implemented in Jammu and Kashmir in various sectors such as Roads, P o w e r , Health, Edu c a t i o n , To u r i sm, Ag r i c u l - ture, Skill Development.


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