9 yrs on: Qazigund-Banihal 4-lane tunnel awaits completion

ESS AHMAD. Dated: 12/2/2019 4:59:25 PM

Construction company misses fourth deadline

ANANTNAG, Dec 1: After missing the fourth deadline for the construction of four lane tunnel from Qazigund to Banihal on Srinagar-Jammu National highway, Navyuga engineering company limited, the executing agency for the project has been given one more extension for its completion.
Thought the officials attribute the delay in the completion of the project to unfavorable situation in the valley, 2014 floods and shortage of funds, people, however, say that the slow pace of work on the project is responsible for the delay.
The tunnel, one of the longest tunnels of the world was sanctioned by the UPA government in 2011 and was inaugurated by the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi. The tunnel starts from Ujru Qazigund and ends at Banihal. The estimated cost of the project is 1800 crore rupees and is aimed not only to reduce the distance between Qazigund and Banihal but also to avoid the halting of passenger vehicles and trucks along the tough mountainous stretch due to the snowfall during winters. June 2016 was set as the first deadline for the completion of the project.
However, sources said after missing the first deadline, the executing agency sought one more year for completion of the tunnel. The authorities then set May 2017 as the second deadline for the company to complete the project. The company, however, failed to meet even the second deadline following which the authorities set December 2018 as third deadline for completion of the project. However, the construction company, sources said, missed the third deadline also.
The company officials, they said, later made several lame excuses for missing another deadline and sought more time for completing the project. The company was given one more year and December 2019 was set as fourth deadline for completion of the project.
Now as the fourth deadline is nearing, sources say, the project is nowhere near completion.
“The company is all set to miss another deadline as the tunnel is far from completion. The company has started seeking more time from the authorities even before the fourth deadline ends next month. It is irony that the company is about to miss fourth deadline in nine years,” said a top administrative officer.
He said the company after missing first two deadlines blamed 2014 floods and 2016 mass uprising and for its failure to meet two more deadlines the company, sources said, is making lame excuses of shortage of funds and bad weather.
“The project has the huge availability of funds and citing fund shortage for delay in its completion is a joke. The reason for the project being far from completion even after nine years is actually the slow pace of work by the company,” sources said.
The people, particularly apple growers and traders have expressed dissatisfaction over delay in the completion of tunnel and urged the authorities to speed up the work on the project.
“During the winters the closure of highway between Qazigund-Banihal stretch due to the snowfall not only causes inconvenience to the travelers but affects the businesses as well. This year the early November snowfall caused huge damage to the fruit after the trucks got stranded on the road along the stretch.
The completion of the tunnel will prove to be of great relief to the fruit growers and traders who suffer losses due to the road blockade during winters,” a local trader Hilal Ahmad told Kashmir Times.



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