February 2019 News

Jammu 'surpasses' Kashmir In Development Scenario

5 February 2019
Greater Kashmir
Mukeet Akmali

Srinagar: Several development projects initiated in Jammu division have been accomplished long ago but many such projects in Kashmir costing a total of Rs 34,416 crore appear nowhere near completion due to poor execution and mismanagement. A railway line up to Udhampur on Jammu side, which has boosted industrial sector there, was completed a long ago but rail network sanctioned in 1995, which would connect Kashmir with other states, is still far from completion. In the past 24 years, this project has faced cost overrun of over Rs 25000 crore. Its estimated cost at the start was only Rs 2500 crore. The Jammu-Srinagar railway link was declared a 'national project' in 2002 by Atal Bihari Vajpayee's government and August 15, 2007 was fixed deadline for its completion. While Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the nine-km-long Chenani-Nashri tunnel, on Jammu side, built at the cost of Rs 2,500 crore, in April 2017, even the tender for the detailed project report of Vailoo-Singhpora tunnel in Kashmir's Anantnag district is yet to be issued. Four-laning of Srinagar-Banihal road link is another glaring example of poor execution of projects in Kashmir This project costing Rs 1200 crore is facing cost overrun as well as time overrun of 48 months, according to the union ministry of statistics and programme implementation. The four-laning of Jammu-Udhampur link has been completed long ago and work on the expansion of road beyond Udhampur is underway. The state government has initiated work on the construction of a dry port with an estimated cost of Rs 1000 crore in Jammu region, while in Kashmir it is yet to be taken up. A senior Industries and commerce department official said that till Kashmir gets railway connectivity, the government is unlikely to establish a dry port in Kashmir. The case of Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh flyover is another glaring example of poor execution and mismanagement. It has missed several deadlines, even though the executing agency, J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency, has penalised the contractor. A similar project in Jammu, Bikram Chowk flyover, has been inaugurated a year back. A report by the erstwhile state government on the status of the projects under the Prime Minister's Development Programme shows that of the 61 identified projects, 13 are in the Jammu region, 11 in Kashmir and nine in Ladakh. At least 28 projects cut across regions and are state-wide. In Jammu, physical work on five projects including an IIM (where classes started in November 2016) and the semi-ring road have commenced. In Kashmir, the IIM is still nowhere and work on ring road is yet to begin. Of the 11 projects under the PMDP in the Kashmir region, only three are off the ground including four-laning of the Qazigund-Banihal section, of which 72 per cent has been completed. None of the other projects has seen any significant progress.