NHIDCL to maintain Batote-Kishtwar highway

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The Jammu and Kashmir Government is in the process of giving the maintenance of 110-km-long Batote-Kishtwar national highway to the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL).

The NHIDCL is expected to take over from the Public Works Department (PWD) within a few months.During the Omar Abdullah-led government, the road was being maintained by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) but was given to the PWD for better management in 2013.

Within two years, the maintenance of the road, which caters to more than 7 lakh people, is being shifted to another agency.The road was damaged by heavy rain and snow and reduced to a single lane from double lane.“The 110-km stretch from Batote to Kishtwar suffered severe damage.

In the absence of funds, the PWD was not able to maintain it. Huge liability was created by the department and contractors have not yet got their money back which they had spent on it,” said a source in the PWD.The NHIDCL will also look after the 79-km Kishtwar-Sinthan road, which connects Kishtwar with Anantnag district.“The process of taking over may take a few more months. Till then, the PWD has been asked to submit a proposal for restoration and maintenance of the road to the corporation,” said a source.A proposal of around Rs 30 crore has been submitted to the NHIDCL for maintenance of the road and the approval is expected within a fortnight, the source added.Due to the creation of the Baglihar hydroelectric project reservoir, the area on both banks of the Chenab from Chanderkote to Pul Doda started sinking, damaging the Batote-Kishtwar highway. Heavy rain further damaged the road. The PWD is expecting that Central funds will help improve the condition of the road.

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