Jammu: The delay in the removal of at least 144 structures on the Udhampur-Ramban stretch has affected the four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar highway.
The National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), which is executing the project, said these structures were to be removed by the state government. However, despite the payment of requisite amount and regular reminders, nothing had been done so far. “The delay has severely affected the pace of the project. Frequent landslides are further adding to the problem. At least 144 structures on the Udhampur-Ramban stretch are yet to be demolished,” said Ajay Kumar, project director, NHAI.
Work on the 55-km Udhampur-Ramban stretch was started in 2015, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of the project. He had stated that the work would be completed by December 2019. However, sources said only 58.5 per cent work had been completed so far. The NHAI had now set another deadline of June 2020.
“The Udhampur-Chenani stretch will be completed by December this year, while work on the Nashri-Ramban route will take another six months,” said Kumar.
The sources said the Udhampur-Ramban-Banihal stretch had the most difficult terrain. Initially, no company was ready to undertake work. Later, it was allotted to Gammon India, one of the largest infrastructure construction companies in the country. However, the condition of the highway continued to remain miserable. Passengers travelling to the Kashmir valley from Jammu often get stuck in a traffic jam.
“A road trip from Udhampur to Banihal has become a nightmare. Besides damaging our vehicle, it takes four to five hours to cross the 110-km stretch of Udhampur to the Jawahar tunnel,” said Shailender Singh, a taxi operator.