Good roads vital for sound economic growth: Bukhari


‘Pursuing key tunnel, road projects with Centre

JAMMU: Minister for R&B, GP&FC, Syed Mohammad Altaf Bukhari today said that an effective communication network is essential not only for meeting the requirements of travel and transport but also for rapid socio-economic development of the state and the country, adding that  good connectivity and economic growth are linked with each other. He said road connectivity is even more important because it is directly linked to the promotion of tourism.

“To set J&K on the path of investment we need infrastructure planning and delivery to improve the lives of our citizens across the State” the Minister said in the Legislative Assembly today adding that there is fundamental link between sound infrastructure and productive state economy. He said infrastructure network enables people to gain access to jobs and prosperity. Quotation Noble Prize winner Paul Krugman “Productivity is not everything, but in the long run is almost everything”, he said good road network is the foundation stone for a successful economy and productive and cohesive society, adding that roads should never be at a standstill.   

“You have to imagine the future to understand the decisions we need to take now” said Syed Altaf Bukhari, adding that a sustainable improvement in economic performance requires a road network, the transport links that connect people with jobs and goods with markets.  Appreciating Members for giving valuable suggestions regarding various developmental activities of the department, the Minister assured them that points raised by them would be taken care of. He said steps would be taken to make R&B department efficient, responsive and accountable.

Giving details about the work done the Minister said 1223 Km road length across the State has been blacktopped and WBM laid for a length of 1683 Km during the current financial year so far. He said Rs. 565.71 crore stands expended under R&B Sector during 2013-14 while a road length of 1376 Km was blacktopped besides laying Water Bound Macadam (WBM) over a length of 2354 Km. 

The Minister said 6074 Kms have been restored out of the aggregate damaged road length of 6121 Km due to floods of September, 2014. He said out of 600 damaged bridges, 510 bridges have been restored so far.

Bukhari said the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has recently declared seven new National Highways in the state, adding that the government is pursuing vigorously with MoRTH to have Mughal road, Doda-Desa-Kapran-Verinag road upto Jawahal Tunnel exit and Verinag- Achabal-Mattan- Pahalgam road declared as National Highways. He said efforts would be also made to open Mughal Road for vehicular traffic earlier than its scheduled opening time.

The Minister said department has proposed construction of tunnels at various places including Peer Ki Gali at Mughal road, Singhpora Kishtwar to Vailoo Anantnag, Anderbugh Lolab Kupwara to Chechinar Aloosa Bandipora, Doda Dessa Kapran, Bhaderwah-Bani-Basholi, Sudh Mahadev to Goha via Marmath etc, adding the matter is being pursued with Union Ministry for Road Transport and Highways for sanction and funding.

Altaf Bukhari said construction of ring roads around the two cities was taken up with the National Highway Authority of India to overcome the acute problems of traffic congestion in both capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar. He said feasibility report has already been prepared and the state government is pursuing the case for on 100% central funding.

He said in addition, the Government proposes to introduce the construction of Rigid Pavement (Cement Concrete) roads instead of flexible pavement (Bituminous Blacktop) roads in the low lying areas which remain inundated due to rain and snow. He said pilot project is intended to be undertaken on experimental basis during the ensuing financial year.

Bukhari said project proposals of Rs. 661.74 crore for funding for inter-state and intra-state roads under various centrally sponsored schemes have been submitted to MoRT. These include roads like Jammu –Pathankote, Mahanpur-Basohli, Basohli-Bani-Bhaderwah to Bajootra HP, Bhagwati Nagar-Akhnoor Road, Bridge over Rawi River at village Keerian Kathua etc. The State Government is pursuing the matter with Union Government for seeking external financial assistance from Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA) under Official Development Assistance (ODA) loan for 20 major projects which includes construction of 06 tunnels and 14 major / district road projects.

Earlier, the Minister moved a Demand of Grant for a sum of Rs. 229814.45 lakh to defray the charges which will come in the course of payment during the year ending March 31, 2016 for the departments under his charge.

11 Members took part in discussion on demand of grants including Mr. Mr. Mohammad Khalil Band, Mr. Ravinder Raina, Syed Farooq Ahmed Andrabi, Mr. Daleep Singh, Mr. Noor Mohammad Sheikh, Mr. Shakti Parihar, Er. Abdul Rashid, Mr. Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, Mr. Jeevan Lal, Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather and Mr. Bashir Ahmed Dar.

Later, the members, who moved the Cut Motions on the Grants, withdrew the same after the satisfactory reply from the Minister.

The House passed the Grants by a voice vote.