Centre Approves 2 Tunnel Projects To Improve Intra-state Connectivity

SRINAGAR: The Union government has accorded in principle approval for work on two ambitious tunnel projects – Mughal Road tunnel and Singhpora-Vailoo tunnel – to give intra-state connectivity a major push.

An official statement issued here this evening said the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways has accorded in principle approval for work on two ambitious tunnel projects viz Mughal Road tunnel, connecting south Kashmir with Poonch and Rajori in Jammu region and Singhpora-Vailoo tunnel and ordered that DPRs for both the projects be prepared at the earliest.

“It has also ordered that bidding process for the Rs 8000 crore Zojila tunnel be finalized quickly and work on the tunnel be started,” the statement said.

It said these decisions were taken in a meeting between Mehbooba and Union Minister for Road Transport & Shipping, Nitin Gadkari in New Delhi today.

The statement said that Mehbooba strongly pitched for improving connectivity in the State in view of the harsh climatic conditions and inaccessibility of certain areas in the State.

The Chief Minister apprised the union Minister about the necessity of constructing these tunnels, not only to improve all weather connectivity within the State but also keep the different regions connected throughout the year.

In another major decision, the meeting decided to consider Lakhanpur-Mahanpur-Basohli-Bani-Doda road as a new highway in order to provide another connectivity route to the State and also get the vast area of the erstwhile Doda district connected better to the State and rest of the world.

Mehbooba also flagged the issue of constructing ring roads in Jammu and Srinagar capital cities at the earliest in view of the increasing traffic density.

She was informed that all preliminary works including land acquisition were proceeding at fast pace and work on both ring roads was likely to be awarded and started this year.

The Chief Minister raised the issue of development and upgradation of a number of other roads including Budhal-Shopian road, Kupwara-Bungus road, Srinagar-Bandipora road, Tral-Pahalgam road, Panikhar-Pahalgam road and other tunnels including Sadhna, Razdan and Chatergalla tunnels and sought expediting the works.

“The meeting also reviewed the status of work on Jammu-Srinagar highway. While the Jammu-Udhampur stretch of road is complete, work on the 66 Kilometre Qazigund-Srinagar highway is likely to be completed this year, the meeting was informed. Besides, the Chennani-Nashri tunnel is likely to be fully completed by the end of current month,” it said.

Similarly, the DPR for Poonch-Uri road connecting Pir Panchal with Kashmir valley is being prepared and work would commence after the same is approved, the meeting was told.

The Chief Minister, however, expressed concern over the slow pace of work on the widening of Ramban-Banihal stretch of highway and sought expediting the same.

Mehbooba also raised the issue of slow pace of dredging in river Jhelum and sought active support from the union Ministry in this regard.

Gadkari directed that a coordinated approach be adopted by the Ministries of Water Resources, Transport and Shipping in consultation with the State Government to look into the issue and sort out things at the earlier.

Mehbooba also sought that the river Jhelum be made navigable for inland water transportation. She was informed that a study commissioned in this regard will be completed by April this year and necessary steps will be taken to make the river amenable for inland water transportation.

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