25 km of Batote-Doda Road stretch unsafe; whose fault?
Realignment of Katra-Qazigund to cost Rs 20 billion extra, why?
As reports reaching here revealed, that 25 kilometers of road out of 45 kilometers stretch between the Batote and Doda is unsafe and proposed 70-km rail link between Katra in the Jammu region and Qazigund in Kashmir Valley may require realignment, the questions rises why is it so? Why such needs arise? Who is responsible for all this? And why the common people have to suffer every time?
The answer is simple and clear. Our policy makers, planners and surveyors are either foresighted and lack vision or they intentionally make such policies and projects which intend to result in failure and troubles in near future. While making projects for the execution, they seems do not take in consideration long term affects/results and future implications.
It is not the matter of just this particular stretch of road which was affected by the water level of Chenab, that rose after the construction of Baglihar Dam, and after rain for few hours sunk, but majority of the projects implemented or under implementation were neither studies and researched thoroughly nor discussed with the experts like Geology Department, Wild Life Department, Environment Department, etc In short complete lack of coordination prevails. If that would have been done, billions of rupees would have been saved.
Take an example of Bridge that connects Pull Doda with the Doda City. The departments concerned, executing agencies and project and surveyors and engineers were well aware about the construction of Baglihar Dam and its impact on the cities situated on the banks of river Chenab, yet they gave green signal to the construction of this bridge. Crores were spent on the construction of this bridge, but now has been declared as in danger.
The experts say that water level will raise and the bridge is in danger. Now the government has again decided to raise the level of this bridge. But one must ask; why the studies of these areas were not made to find out geographical conditions, soil type, rock quality and land sliding and sinking probabilities before starting the projects and their construction works? Why our politicians, who run the government, are focusing only on quantity, inaugurations, erecting and installing the name plates only, so they can count these works at the time of election campaign? Why our government is not worried about the future generation and the problems and challenges they can face?
It is obvious that without connectivity no area, state, country can progress and develop and if the connectivity is faulty and money continues to get wasted in repairs, alignments and making alternatives, one after the other, then how much will be left for other works?
In other parts of the country and world, bridges, building and roads are made once and for years they even do not much repairing but in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, roads sink, bridges collapse and buildings fall to ground even before completion.
Look at the proposed 70-km rail link between Katra in the Jammu region and Qazigund in Kashmir Valley.
Reports have started pouring in that it may require realignment, because of geological obstacles thus pushing the project cost upwards. The re-alignment is likely to cost Rs 2,000 crore (Rs.20 billion) extra. Why now? It could have been done earlier and billions and trillions could have been saved but who cares.
Though, about 100 km of approach roads to the construction of track, bridges and tunnels are ready, now, the re-alignment of the track, if required, will definitely lead to losses, cost escalation and delays in the project.
Railway official have requested anonymity, seepage and caving in of tunnels were posing severe challenges on the Katra-Qazigund link. The project was slated to be completed by August 2007 on an investment of Rs.110 billion, but the geological obstacles and engineering challenges have delayed the project and pushed up the total cost which is now likely to cross Rs.300 billion and in all likelihood the project will not be completed by 2020.
Relevent to mention here that work on the Katra-Qazigund track, part of the 290-km Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Railway Link (USBRL) project, was stopped last November when geological obstacles encountered. The project throws up many challenges of inhospitable mountainous terrain and over 750 bridges and 100 km of tunnels are expected to be built up besides the longest tunnel of about 11 km long,
The greatest engineering challenges involve the crossing of the Chenab river, which requires building a 1,315-metre-long bridge, and the crossing of the Anji Khad, which involves building a 657-metre-long bridge.
The Chenab Bridge will be the highest railway structure of its kind in the world, 35 metres higher than the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Moreover, it is not now, the people of erstwhile Doda district have been suffering for years together particularly when the landslides occur or the snow falls.
For the past 31 years, government can not complete the construction of an alternate road to link (present) Doda, Kishtwar districts, which are presently cut off from the rest of the state.
The Kaprin-Dessa road was taken up in the 1978 is the alternate link to Doda district requires only Rs 46 crore to complete but lack of adequate funds is hampering the work.
The government must seriously think about completing the work on alternate routes to the two districts.
Concerned agencies and departments have to change their planning strategy which seems have become traditional and outdated now.
The time has come to involve the latest scientific techniques and suggestion from experts before formulating any project and plain to ensure durability and safety. Focus should be on quality and durability instead of quantity. In the past few years it has been witnessed that inauguration after inauguration were done by the ministers conceding to the demands raised over night and without making studies, future affects works were started. The casual approach of planners/ surveyors if continue, will soon accumulate into grave situation for the people and at that time government, which ever would be, will be in great trouble and the people, one can expect.