Militants stall J&K infrastructure projects

19 June 2008
The Hindu

Kishtwar: Disruption of construction activities by militants has adversely affected infrastructure projects in Jammu and Kashmir. On June 13, five persons, including Lt. Colonel Ajay Verma of the Border Roads Organisation, were killed by militants in Kishtwar district. The group had gone to the Sinthan pass to review the road project that would connect Kishtwar district with Anantnag district. The 193 km Batote-Kishtwar-Sinthan Pass-Anantnag National Highway 1B is an important project. The area has remained inaccessible and, therefore, been a safe haven for militants. The road, if built, would provide easy mobility for troops in the mountain areas. Militants have also threatened employees working in infrastructure projects. According to Nitu Verma, wife of Lt. Colonel Ajay Verma, her husband used to receive calls from militants asking for money in lieu of permission to continue with the project. Other projects that have been badly hit by militant threats include the Bani-Basolhi and Bhaderwah-Chamba projects in Doda district. The plan for these road projects was conceived in the 1970s but is still a long way from completion. The projects, if completed, will connect directly Doda district with Himachal Pradesh. It will also reduce the travelling distance to Punjab by 11 hours. Similarly, the Mughal road that would connect Rajouri and Poonch with areas to north of Pir Panjal is also behind schedule. The project was conceived in the early 1980s and was revived in 2005.