Of Deforestation, Delays, Deadlines: In Talks With Ring Road Director

Representational Photo

THE work on the ambitious Srinagar Ring-Road project is going at a snail pace, with officials saying only 10 percent of the construction work has been completed in the last five years.

Under the Prime Minister’s Development Project (PMDP), National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) started the ambitious road work simultaneously in Jammu and in Kashmir in 2018.

But half a decade later, Kashmir lags behind Jammu where the government has completed over 74 percent Ring Road Project work.

Pertinently, the project was awarded to Ramky Infrastructure Limited in Kashmir, but the administration’s inability to meet the company’s “90% land acquiring” demand delayed it.

The government terminated the contract with Ramky Infrastructure Ltd and after rebidding, the project was allotted to NKC Projects Limited on May 31, 2021, when an agreement was signed by NHAI with the contractor.

According to officials, more than 590 acres of agricultural land has been acquired for 42-kilometre road project which would connect Pulwama and Ganderbal districts via Budgam through Pampore, Wathoora, Budgam, Dharmuna and Narbal in western outskirts of summer capital Srinagar.

To know more about the project, Kashmir Observer spoke to Project Director, National Highways Authority of India, Indresh Kumar. Edited excerpts follows.

An RTI reveals that over one lakh trees worth Rs 13.76 crore were axed for Ring Road. Was it the only option?

I’ve no idea about the number of trees being axed, but we’ve definitely tried to construct the Ring Road from the least vegetative zones.

Can you tell us why there is so much delay in the project?

The project was awarded to RAMKI in 2018 but due to financial and land acquisition issues, the construction was delayed.

After rebidding, the project was allotted to NKC Projects Limited on May 31, 2021.

The company started work in September 2021 and completed over 10 percent of the construction in just five months.

But will the project ever meet the deadline?

Our work is in the initial stage and our target to complete the project is in February 2024, but we’ve certain limitations.

Our workers can’t work in sub-zero temperatures. They can’t either work during the nights which might delay the project for another four months.

But we’ll try to complete the project by 2024 only.

But given the delays and hiccups, it looks unlikely that this project will be completed on time.

If the situation and weather remains in our favour, we will try to complete it on time.

Is there any security threat to the workers?

Of course, security concern is always there.

Generally, our men work in alignment. They stay where the construction work is going on, but in Kashmir, we can’t do that.

The workers shift to the safer places as soon as the dusk falls.

There’re reports that the Amarnath Yatra has also hindered your service? Is it true?

Yes, the construct material ferried by the trucks gets stuck in traffic jams and delays the whole process.

Which district has given a major portion of the land for the project?

Out of 42 kilometers, 37 have been acquired in Budgam alone.

Our work started from Galandar in Pulwama and ended in Sumbal Bandipora.

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Auqib Javeed

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

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