Jammu Kashmir Highways- A new dawn of development

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Last week’s much awaited Srinagar-Baramulla-Uri highway was sanctioned by Union Minister for roads and Highways Nitin Gadkari. He approved Rs 823 crores for the project and directed for the speedy completion of the ambitious road project which will eventually connect the last point of the country with the rest of India.

It took almost 24 years for the Government of India to sanction the project though it was part of highway projects launched by late Atal Bihari Vajpayee during his tenure as Prime Minister in 1998.

After lots of hiccups and obstacles followed by the snail’s pace of work on Jammu-Srinagar highway, the major portion of it is somehow completed. From Banihal to Srinagar which includes a 9 kilometre long tunnel at Banihal, the portion till Srinagar is already completed. But there is no proper word from the executive authorities regarding the stretch between Banihal to Ramban.

Though the stretch is treacherous and very difficult to work on, it needs a speedy completion since work is going on for a long time. It was just a few years back when the Union government pulled the authorities, the work on the project received push. So in the context of ongoing work, let’s be hopeful the newly sanctioned project may not suffer the setbacks. Let the work on it start on a fast track basis.

Moreover, the bypass at many places is going through agriculture and horticulture land. While on one side it will boost the economy of the area, however, those affected with it shall be duly compensated under the Fair Compensation Act.

We have disturbing stories of people in Srinagar, Budgam and other areas whose land was acquired for the Ring road project. The rates to the land were provided not as per the market value but fixed by the government more than a decade ago. The story shall not be repeated anywhere else and all those affected with such developmental projects must be awarded proper compensation.

Moreover, the government also ensures environmental concerns are addressed since a huge chunk of grazing and forest land is falling under the widening of roads.Alongside the Srinagar-Baramulla- Uri highway many other massive projects are under execution in Jammu an dKashmir.

All of them have been executed in the last two years and are expected to set the new dawn of socioeconomic development in the region. The only apprehension people have is not to lose their property for peanuts. Let it be the boon not the bane of development.

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