Srinagar: Stressing the need for expanding and improving intra-state connectivity, Governor N N Vohra today said that quality road network, especially in the rural areas, is crucial to the economic inclusion of a large percentage of the population which lives in difficult areas of the State.
“To support the rural economy, it is critical to ensure that road infrastructure is built and maintained in a manner which ensures all-weather connectivity and withstands the climatic vagaries,” Governor observed at a high-level meeting convened here this afternoon to review the progress of road projects in the State under the flagship Centrally Sponsored Schemes and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).
Advisors to Governor Shri B B Vyas and Shri Khurshid Ahmed Ganai and Chief Secretary, Shri B V R Subrahmanyam were present at the meeting.
Governor stressed that, while formulating road projects, the executing agencies must take into account how climate resilient construction can be integrated into the planning of rural roads. “These connectivity projects will erase the geographical boundaries between people living in far flung areas of the state and open up new vistas of social progress and economic prosperity,” he said and called for expediting the PMGSY projects and addressing the bottlenecks including forest clearances and land acquisition at the earliest in coordination with the concerned Departments.
To address the bottlenecks, it was decided that Principal Secretary Planning Development and Monitoring Department shall compile district-wise profiles regarding the hurdles being faced e.g. delays due to land acquisition, forest clearances and shifting of utilities so that the same are addressed in a coordinated manner at the highest level in the Government.
Expressing serious concern over the mounting casualties in road accidents in the State, Governor stressed the need for improving the quality of the roads, especially in hilly areas.
Governor asked the executing agencies to urgently accelerate the pace of work so as to complete all the schemes on the targeted date without any loss of time or cost-overrun especially in the Kashmir valley, winters zones of Jammu and Leh/Kargil where the working season is very limited.
Commissioner Secretary PWD, Khurshid Ahmad Shah, made a detailed presentation about the progress of various road connectivity projects under PMGSY. He informed that under PMGSY, around 9000 kms of road have been achieved and for the current year, the target is 2800 kms.
The meeting was informed that PMGSY is aimed at providing ‘new connectivity’ to the unconnected habitations, either through new roads or through upgradation of existing roads.
The meeting was told that since the inception of the flagship programme, 3501 connectivity projects, including roads and bridges, have been taken up under PMGSY (Phase I to XII) in J&K at a cumulative cost of Rs 12800 crore. This involves construction/upgradation of around 20,000 KM road length connecting around 3,000 habitations. Out of these, 1,613 schemes have been completed till date at a cost of Rs 4,545 crores, covering a road length of 9,000 KMs covering over 2,212 habitations.
Governor expressed serious concern over the fact that 2,400 kms of roads, under Phase III – IX of PMGSY, costing Rs 1,500 crore are yet to be completed. He directed expediting all pending projects and stressed the need for the PWD Department to make advance preparations so that J&K can secure the maximum number of road projects under PMGSY-II which is scheduled to be launched by the Government of India next year.
The meeting was informed that under Phase X-XII, for about 8,000 Kms of roads, costing Rs 7,000 crore, Government of India has not provided funds for land acquisition which shall cost about Rs 1,700 crore, as was done under the earlier Phases. It was decided that PWD would complete 1000 Km roads of earlier Phases by October 2018 and the State Government would thereafter request Government of India to provide funds for land acquisition.
Governor also reviewed the progress of road projects being executed under Central Road Fund (CRF), NABARD and other State Sector programmes.
Advisors B B Vyas and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai and Chief Secretary, BVR Subrahmanyam made various valuable suggestions on how to expedite road projects in the State and overcome physical and financial impediments.
Principal Secretary Finance, Navin K Choudhary, Principal Secretary Planning, Development & Monitoring, Rohit Kansal, Commissioner Revenue, Shahid Ananyatullah, Commissioner Forests, Saurabh Bhagat, Chief Engineers and other concerned officers were present in the meeting.