Highway expansion ‘critically important’ for JK: Mehbooba Mufti

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J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti was on Monday informed that the widening and up-gradation work on 170-km portion of the Srinagar-Jammu highway has been completed at a cost of Rs 5,011 crore while work is going on “in full swing” on its remaining portion.
Chairing a meeting to review progress on the highway widening project here, Mehbooba was informed that 67 percent work on the 68-km Srinagar-Qazigund stretch has been completed while work is on to get the proposed Banihal tunnel through at an earliest.
“The tunnel is expected to be readied by the year-end while the entire stretch would be readied by next year,” the chief minister was, according to an official spokesman, informed by the representatives of the project executing agency.
Similarly, Pampore and Bijbehara bypass projects are almost complete and likely to be thrown open by next month, she was told. Terming Srinagar-Jammu highway widening project as “critically important” for the state, the chief minister said its completion is going to “change the entire profile of the state and its people.”
She asked the project implementing agencies to factor in this objective and complete their works without delaying any further.
The chief minister was informed that the Jammu-Udhampur stretch of the highway has been completed while work on Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal stretches is on with varying degrees of completion levels.
Mehbooba specifically directed the project executing agencies to develop the vacant spaces and adjoining patches along the highway with more greenery, plants and flowers to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the project. She also directed maintenance of the old Highway by the NHAI till the new entire stretch is completed and operationalised.
The chief minister was informed by the NHAI authorities that they have decided to develop a quality wayside facility on the newly-constructed highway after every 40 kms and also go for plantations to make it one of the greenest corridors developed by them in India. “During the meeting, the chief minister also reviewed the progress achieved on land acquisition and other initial procedures on the ambitious Srinagar and Jammu semi ring-road projects. She was informed that bids have been invited for the Jammu project while work is going on the Srinagar project. All the land issues of the two projects would be settled by the end of next month,” the chief minister was informed, according to the official spokesman. 
Minister for R&B, Naeem Akhtar; chairman, NHAI, Y S Malik; chief secretary, B. B. Vyas; principal secretary to chief minister, Rohit Kansal; commissioner-secretary, Revenue, Muhammad Ashraf Mir; commissioner-secretary, Forests, Mohammad Afzal Bhat; secretary, R&B, Sanjeev Verma; divisional commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu; IGP, Traffic, Jagjit Kumar; deputy commissioners of Srinagar, Anantnag, Pulwama, Ramban, Ganderbal, Jammu; representatives of project construction companies; officers of NHAI and state government were present on the occasion.

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