Pardeep Singh Bali
Claimed to have macadamized over 3000 kms road stretch, Jammu and Kashmir government is unable to explain reasons for roads having gone from bad to worse.
Soon after forming alliance with Jammu based Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) led coalition government under the headship of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had promised to facelift the decaying road structure of the state by macadamizing it with ‘old 75 mm’ specification. The then Roads and Buildings Minister, Altaf Bukhari after surveying and scrutinizing various parameters to understand basic problem of roads of the state reached to the conclusion that instead of present 25-30 mm specification, old specification of 75 mm macdamisation would be used in future construction.
“The then minister held series of meetings with various stakeholders of the state, including engineers, contractors and ministers to understand the problem for the short life of roads,” said an engineer, wishing anonymity, adding that the concerned minister asked engineers and contractors to create an exemplary road network in the state.
“During that discussion, it was dwelled upon that even after passage of decades, some roads in the state are still in shape, while as most of the newly constructed roads have succumbed to the transportation load,” engineer said and added that the concerned ministers put engineers to come up with a strategy to have long lived roads.
The engineer further said that the minister was told that earlier the roads were macadamized with the specification of over 75 mm, while as present roads have mere 25-30 mm specification. “The minister had asked engineers to prepare new chart and refurbish all existing and new roads with revised specification of 75 mm, which was orderly abided,” said engineer, adding “along with this order, the then R&B minister has asked contractors to take responsibility of the wear and tear for at least three years, which means the contractor had to maintain the roads, especially in case of any damage.
However, contradicting the working of the government, especially R&B department, since after the change in guard, there are no accountable contractors, specification has promptly jumped back to 25-30 mm specification and roads are being macadamized according to reference or wish of the members of legislative assembly, members of council and ministers, besides some powerful leaders of opposition.
In a recent survey by the team of Newspoint across the state it was found that the areas macadamized some six to eight months back are showing signs of tearing. In Jammu, the roads of Digiana, Preet Nagar, Nanak Nagar, Gangyal, Narwal, Panama Chowk, Akhnoor road, Dogra Chowk, Jewel Chowk, Rehari among others are in dilapidated condition, while as in Kashmir, Bemina, Nowhatta, interior Batamaloo, Qamarwari, Lal Bazaar, Athwajan among others. This is the situation of most of the capital cities, one can imagine what would be the condition of rural road networking, especially hilly areas, which are highly prone to road accidents, which occur mostly due to rugged road connectivity.
A senior officer of Public Works Department (PWD) wishing not to be named admitted that the present condition of the roads is bad and the department is being asked to concentrate on roads which have been referred through ministers, MLAs and MLCs, besides leaders of opposition parties. “Chowadi area of Jammu was macdamised with new specifications on priority, as it houses various prominent leaders and ministers,” said senior officer alleging that at present department is also facing shortage of funds.
When tried to contact concerned minister over the issue, his number was not reachable