Gadkari Bengal
Amid the Centre-state tussle over the fund-freeze, the MoRTH’s approach makes one wonder whether Gadkari is on the same page with the BJP top brass | File photo

Delhi-Srinagar highway will increase tourist arrivals in J&K four-fold: Gadkari

There will be a four-fold rise in the footfall of tourists in Kashmir after the completion of the Delhi-Jammu-Srinagar highway, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.

The minister for road, highways and transport on Tuesday inspected a 924-metre-long Banihal-Qazigund tunnel, which will bypass a nearly three-km landslide and accident-prone area in Ramban district, and various road projects in the Union territory.

The completion of the tunnel will bring much relief to travellers by bypassing a nearly three-km landslide and accident-prone area in the Ramban district.

Flanked by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha and Union ministers Jitendra Singh and Gen VK Singh, Gadkari also conducted a breakthrough of Sita Rama Passi Maroog via virtual mode through a controlled blast in the tunnel.

“After completion of this road in the next two years, the tourist arrival (in Jammu and Kashmir) will increase over 4 times. That will increase the number of resorts and restaurants 9 in the Union territory),” Gadkari told reporters after an inspection of the tunnel.

The minister expressed confidence that after the completion of road projects, there will be a huge development, people will get employment and poverty will be eradicated in the Union territory.

“The lifeline (highway) will have socio-economic benefits to Jammu and Kashmir.

“In Jammu and Kashmir, we are constructing road projects at a cost of Rs 1.25 lakh crore. There are 20 to 22 proposals of ropeways and cable cars worth Rs 25,000-30,000 crore that we are doing. It will have a 4-fold increase in the tourism of Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir will be self-reliant and prosperous,” he said.

Referring to the work on the highways, he said there will be three roads being constructed between Jammu and Srinagar.

“…One of five tunnels with a length of 45 kilometres has been inaugurated today. The other three tunnels will be open by next year. One tunnel given to TATA will take some time for completion.” Referring to the express highway, he said that a tunnel project has been given to TATA.

“It will take some time. After completion, the distance will be restricted to three hours. From Katra, it will be direct travel to Delhi. The travel time from Delhi to Srinagar will be 8 hours and six hours travel time from Delhi to Katra. From Delhi to Mumbai, the travel time will be 12 hours,” the minister said.

Responding to the locals demands for employment, he said, “We are building a resort, where we can put handloom and handicrafts products of locals for display. It will give employment to 500 to 600 people”.

He also said that 99 per cent of the tunnel staff has been employed locally.

“We will keep trying that local youth get jobs in other tunnels too, and Jammu and Kashmir becomes self-reliant in terms of economic growth,” he added.

Gadkari also said that he always mentions the former American presidents remark — “America is rich because American roads are good”.

Gadkari inspected highways, the Banihal bypass and the Peera-Chanderkote tunnel. “Every tunnel saves time. Today this tunnel was completed…another tunnel will be completed soon. Within two months it will also be started,” he said.

The tunnel is part of the ongoing four-laning of the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar national highway – the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the country.

The tunnel bypasses the most vulnerable stretch of Panthyal in the Ramban district.

The work on the four-laning project started in 2011 and includes a number of small and major tunnels, bridges and flyovers. The project is likely to be completed by the next year after missing several deadlines over the past decade.

Asked about the second tube (T2) of the Kunfer tunnel, he said it will be ready within two months.

The completion of these projects will not only help resolve the issue of traffic jams on the highway to a large extent but will also cut down the distance between different points by several kilometres.

“To ease the travel between Jammu and Srinagar, 3 corridors are being built at a cost of Rs 35,000 crore. Under this, the first corridor from Jammu to Udhampur-Ramban-Banihal and further to Srinagar…,” Gadkari said.

This 4-lane road of 250 km length is being built at a cost of Rs 16,000 crore. Out of this, 4-laning of 210 km route has been completed, including 10 tunnels of 21.5 km, he said.

The minister also said that the government is constructing a multi-model hub of world standard at Katra, the base camp of the cave shrine of Mata Vaishnodevi.

“It will be an attraction for the world. It has got a beautiful design. We are also going there,” he added.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Federal staff and is auto-published from a syndicated feed.)

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