NH 4-laning costs govt exchequer dearly, 100% cost overrun in two major projects

Arteev Sharma. Updated: 4/11/2022 1:00:51 PM Front Page

NHAI now fixes Jun 2025 tentative deadline; Ramban-Banihal stretch to have 11 tunnels

Jammu: The much-ambitious four-laning of Jammu-Srinagar national highway to have all-weather and hassle-free road connectivity for Kashmir Valley has cost the exchequer dearly as two treacherous stretches—Udhampur-Ramban section and Ramban-Banihal sector--along the road have recorded 100 percent cost overrun.
What is more disappointing for highway users is that they will have to wait till 2025 for the completion of a four-laning project which was scheduled to be completed by 2016 at the time of its start.
“The total revised cost of Udhampur-Ramban section has now been pegged at Rs 2233.65 crore while it is Rs 2885.35 crore for the most difficult Ramban-Banihal section. The estimated cost of the project for Udhampur-Ramban section was Rs 1238.68 crore, while the project cost for Ramban-Banihal section was Rs 1331.66 crore,” sources in NHAI told The News Now.
At present, the NHAI has been executing four-laning work on two stretches, including the 43-km-long Udhampur-Ramban section and 36-km-long Ramban-Banihal section—on Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
Sources said the project has already jumped several deadlines and the NHAI has now fixed a tentative deadline of June 2025 for the execution of all these projects.
Work on highway widening was started in 2011 and it was targeted to be completed within five years from its commencement. The four-laning project was divided into six sub-projects comprise widening of Jammu-Udhampur road (65 km), Chenani-Nashri tunnel (9.2 km), widening of Ramban-Udhampur road (43 km), Banihal-Ramban road (36 km), Qazigund-Banihal tunnel (8.5 km) and Srinagar-Banihal road (67.7 km). Qazigund-Banihal tunnel is near completion, while all other projects have been completed.
Sources said that the NHAI has been facing the major challenge of completing Ramban-Banihal stretch due to difficult terrain and less working space. “A total of 14 tunnels are being constructed on the 79-km-long Udhampur-Banihal stretch comprising three tunnels between Udhampur and Ramban section and 11 along Ramban-Banihal stretch to ensure all-weather road connectivity,” sources said.
Sources added that the NHAI has also been working on a Rs 2,000 crore project for the re-alignment of 14-km four-laning road stretch on Ramban-Banihal section to bypass half-a-dozen “killer spots” to make it an all-weather road.
“The re-alignment of the road has been finalized between village Marog and Makarkote in Ramban district. All major trouble and land-sliding points including Marog, Panthial, Digdol and Battery Chashma would be bypassed after realignment. The re-alignment project includes tunnels and bridges to avoid all land-sliding and sinking areas. It has pushed the deadline of the project further,” sources said.
Furthermore, the NHAI’s efficiency was hit by 30-40 percent due to non-availability labourers and technical workforce during the last two years against the backdrop of frequent lockdowns following outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic.
Pertinently, the four-laning of the highway would reduce the distance between two Jammu and Srinagar cities by 50 km.
Updated On 4/11/2022 1:20:33 PM

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