Decade of Delay: Why Isn’t Boulevard 4-Lane Project Taking Off?

The project was started to streamline the traffic flow on the iconic stretch on war-footing, but ten years down the line, the project is yet to see the light of the day.

DESPITE funds cleared years ago, there’s no headway in the Boulevard 4-Lane Road Project.

The project was announced by former chief minister Omar Abdullah on August 2, 2011, to streamline the traffic flow on the iconic stretch. The Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department was directed to start it on war-footing, but ten years down the line, the project is yet to see the light of the day.

Under the project, the government has to widen the road from the UN office Sonwar to Kral Sangri.

In the first phase, the road from Nehru Park to Kral Sangri is to be widened. It will have a separate cycle track, coming at an additional cost of Rs. 10 crore.

Showkat Jeelani Pandit, Chief Engineer, R&B Department, told Kashmir Observer that the department is waiting for the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) report and can go ahead with work only after receiving positive recommendations.

“We had a meeting with them [NEERI] recently and they are going to submit the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report soon,” Pandit said. “Once we receive it, we will submit it in the J&K High Court.”

The court has already sought an EIA report from the R&B Department, Nadeem Qadri, an environmental lawyer, said. “Whatever is to be done depends on the recommendations of NEERI’s report,” Qadri told Kashmir Observer.

Notably, Baseer Ahmad Khan, then Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, had tasked Nagpur-based NEERI to study the impact of Boulevard 4-Lane Road Project on environment, and submit the report within ten days. However, years later, the report is still a work in progress.

Feroz Ahmad Mir, Executive Engineer, J&K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), told Kashmir Observer that the delay in report happened as NEERI needed some more information regarding the project.

“We are expecting the report soon,” Mir said.

“Since, no local agency was conducting EIA in Kashmir initially, so we approached NEERI for the report. But now, we have the Centre of Research for Development (CORD) from Kashmir University locally preparing these reports.”

However, Dr. Raja Muzaffar Bhat, an Information and environmental activist, argued that by engaging NEERI for EIA, the authorities are only buying time.

“Authorities should have framed a committee of different concerned departments, like LAWDA, Forests, SMC, Pollution Control Committee, Kashmir University, and should have conducted EIA,” Bhat said. “People from these departments are locals who are familiar with this place and would have done it within no time.”

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Auqib Javeed

Auqib Javeed is special correspondent with Kashmir Observer and tweets @AuqibJaveed

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