Stating that roads are lifeline for economy, Minister for Public Works and Parliamentary Affairs, Abdul Rehman Veeri today said that in a landmark achievement, 542 proposals worth Rs 2842.32 crore have been sanctioned under PMGSY, which would link 595 un-connected habitations by way of construction of 2732 km of roads across the State, besides 2 ring roads costing Rs 4000 cr covering 118 kms have been approved for capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Winding up the discussion on Demand of Grants for Public Works and Parliamentary Affairs Departments, the Minister lauded the role of both ruling and opposition legislators for their feedback and cooperation to the department adding that their valuable feedback will be instrumental for overhauling functioning of the department for better.
Elaborating on various programmes launched by the Government, the Minister said that out of 542 works sanctioned, tenders have been invited for 521 schemes while as 335 have been allotted so far besides work on 147 projects has already started. “Department is proposing Batch II of Phase X to MoRD GoI for approval. This will include all unconnected habitations as well as up-gradation schemes per constituency,” he said. “During 2015-16 the State received highest ever sanction of Rs 758.56 crore for 25 road and bridge projects from central government. For the first time 9 works from Leh and Kargil have also been included for Rs 105 crore,” he added.
Veeri informed the House that another programme initiated in the state includes 427 new connectivity works (303 works of stage I and 124 works of stage II) approved at Rs 1954 crore, besides approval of 29 bridges. For the first time, 86 schemes (nearly 787 kms of road length) have been proposed to be upgraded at a cost of Rs 837 crore.
Veeri also informed the House that matter was taken up at highest level for declaration of Mughal Road and Lakhanpur Basohli Bani Bhaderwah Pul Doda roads as new National Highways. In addition to these, strong efforts for Mughal road tunnel, Chattergala tunnel and other tunnels such as Sadhna, Razdan etc are being made with central government.
In addition to these highways, Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has accorded in-principle approval for declaring two roads namely Dingaamb-Challa-Udhampur road and Lakhanpur-Mahanpur-Basohli-Dunera road as National Highways. The Expression of Interest for appointing DPR consultant is under finalisation
He also informed the House that Kargil-Zanaskar road, Srinagar-Shopian-Qazigund road and Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch road have been declared new National Highways.
On the status regarding some major roads of the state, the Minister said that DPR consultancies for Kargil and Shopian-Qazigund is at an advanced stage, DPR work on Jammu Akhnoor in progress and DPR work for Akhnoor-Poonch will be allotted soon.
The Minister said that two ring roads for Jammu and Srinagar have been approved that will cover 118 kms in two divisions at a cost of Rs 4000 crore. He said that in order to speed up the process of construction of ring roads, task forces have been constituted under the chairmanship of respective divisional commissioners for early finalization of land and acquisition process. “We are pursuing declaration of Mughal road as highway and construction of 8.5 kms tunnel between Zaznar and Chatapani (costing nearly Rs 3500 crore) with Government of India,” he said.
The Minister said that during 2016-17, 118 projects at an estimated cost of Rs 1689.62 crore have been recommended for funding under CRF so far. Proposals for 17 languishing bridge projects at 206.17 crore has also been forwarded for sanction. He said that out of 150 schemes sanctioned under CRF at a cost of Rs 2111.75 crore, 66 schemes have been completed till date at Rs 828.67 crore. He said that are 82 ongoing schemes are expected to be completed by end of March 2017.
“Besides, three major projects worth Rs 309.23 crore have also been recommended to GoI under Inter State-Connectivity during current financial year,” he said.
The Minister said that NABARD has been the main source for funding rural infrastructure development projects related to roads and bridges, adding that 1323 schemes at a cost of Rs 3576.11 crore (RIDF XII to XXI) have been approved under the programme; out of which 666 schemes have been completed so far.
Stating that maintenance of National Highway-244 (Batote Kishtwar road) has been cause of concern for government, the Minister said that after concerted efforts of state government, special maintenance package of over Rs 95 cr has been sanctioned by MoRTH for the road and work has been started on ground. He also said that DPR work for realigned portion of Batote-Kishtwar-Simthan-Khanabal (Chenani-Sudhmahadev-Goha-Khellani including 3.5 kms long tunnel at Goha) road has also been allotted.
“A study on unstable hill slopes has projected the cost of slope stability at an amount of Rs 145 crore and part of this will be taken under World Bank project. The DPRs are also under preparation for three avalanche prone sites on Mughal Road,” he said.
He also said that under Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP) Rs 500 crore have been allotted under World Bank assistance. Veeri also said that JKPCC is currently executing about 415 works at cost of Rs 4400 crore which includes 71 bridges besides roads, hospitals, engineering colleges, degree colleges, polytechnic colleges and other institutional buildings.
Regarding the up-gradation of roads in cities and towns, the Minister said that 3124.72 kms have been macadamised in last two financial years at cost of Rs 1100 crore after massive programme of resurfacing was launched in wake of 2014 September floods. He said that 5066.23 kms of roads were macadamized under different components which include PMGSY, Cities & Towns, Tourist destination, HCM’s commitment, Projectization of roads, NABARD, CRF, ISC, BADP and District Sector.
He also said that 317 bridges are under construction in the State at various stages of completion and 42 bridges are expected to reach completion during 2017-18.
He said that department has requirement of nearly Rs 598 crore to complete all pending projects but annual allocation very low.“Therefore 17 bridges for Rs 206 crore have been posed for funding to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, GoI under Central Road Fund,” he said.
He further said that under Prime Minister Package for Flood Damaged Infrastructure, permanent restoration of 202 bridges have been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 259.85 crore.
“Bharat Mala scheme is proposed to be implemented by Ministry of Road Transport Highways, Government of India. Currently the scheme is not approved and a cabinet note for the same is under inter ministerial consultation”, he said. However, he added that state government has, in anticipation recommended three projects to Ministry of Road Transport & Highways for consideration of approval under the said programme.
On the snow clearing operations, Veeri said that 129 Snow Clearance Machines of different types, which include Snow Cutters, Snow Ploughs, UNIMOG carrier vehicles, and locally designed Snow Cats have been pressed into service.
“Powers of XEN enhanced from 40 lakh to 1 crore and that of SE from 2 crore to 5 crore; powers of chief engineer enhanced from 4 crore to 10 crore, departmental contract committee headed by District Development Commissioner has been authorised to decide contracts upto 20 crore,” he informed the house and said that it has sped up the process of works at different levels.
Regarding the quality check of roads, he said that Road Safety Audit Cell has been established in Directorate of Design, Inspections & Quality Control (DIQC) as the nodal agency in the State for engineering aspects of road safety. The agency is also tasked to vet the projects for road safety purposes as per the National Standard of Indian Road Congress (IRC) as envisaged and also undertaken safety audit of existing roads and ongoing/existing bridges/flyovers.
The Minister also gave the overall view of the strength of the manpower in the department. Over 400 fresh appointments including JEs, Draftsmen, Junior assistants have been made based on recommendations of SSB. Similarly the cases of engineers who were working on OPG basis were taken-up with the DPC/PSC/ Establishment Committee for their regular promotion on substantive basis, the Minister informed.