The J&K Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta on Monday expressed concern over the “unsatisfactory” progress in widening and maintenance of the strategic Jammu–Srinagar highway.
The Chief Secretary chaired a meeting to review the status of National Highway-44 and took stock of the ongoing road-widening works, especially in District Ramban.
He observed that the rate of progress of road-widening and maintenance works is unsatisfactory which is causing inconvenience to the commuters. “The problem is further aggravated by rash and indisciplined lane driving leading to frequent traffic jams; shortage of traffic personnel deputed on highway duty and unannounced movement of army convoys”, he added.
To improve traffic management on the National Highway, the Chief Secretary directed the traffic police to double the manpower to manage traffic at all choking points in addition to implementing suitable remedies to reduce the travel time between Jammu and Srinagar which currently varies from ten to twelve hours on account of mismanaged traffic.
Administrative Secretaries of departments of Revenue, Power Development, Public Works (R&B), and Forest, Ecology & Environment, besides District Development Commissioner, Ramban, SSP Traffic, National Highway, Ramban, Regional Officer, NHAI, and concerned officers participated in the meeting.
To further streamline traffic movement on the National Highway, the Chief Secretary directed NHAI and DC Ramban to develop various vehicle holding areas at Kainthi, Karol, Kowbagh near Ramban town, Peerah, Asher, near Banihal, and Ramsoo; to accommodate stranded vehicles in the event of closure of the National Highway due to bad weather.
He further directed the installation of LED signage at all critical locations along the entire stretch from Jammu to Srinagar within one week to provide real-time information on the current traffic position to the commuters to help them decide the future course of their journey.
Regarding traffic movement through the new ‘Navyug’ tunnel at Banihal, the DC, Ramban was directed to immediately operationalize both tubes of the tunnel for passage of civilian traffic.
The Chief Secretary directed the NHAI to complete the macadamization of Dalwas stretch in 3 days and Jakheni-Nashri section by 15 August 2021, besides immediately commencing the realignment works on Ramban-Banihal section to be completed by December 2022. NHAI was also directed to hand over the by-pass section of old NH – Pantha Chowk-Sonwar road to PW(R&B) Department for its further maintenance.
The NHAI was further asked to install crash barriers with warning signs at all critical junctions by 31 August to prevent fatal accidents on the National Highway-44.