Jammu and Kashmir to get Rs.80 bn to upgrade roads

February 27th, 2009 - 5:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Feb 27 (IANS) Jammu and Kashmir, where road density is one of the lowest in the country, will get over Rs.80 billion (Rs.8,000 crore) from the central government to upgrade its vital road network.
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs Thursday sanctioned the amount for upgrading 264 km of national highways as part of the National Highways Development Project (NHDP) North-South corridor.

The road density (road length per 100 km) in the border state is slightly above 10 percent, whereas the national average is about 65 percent. Plus, “there is huge disparity in the road density across different districts in Jammu and Kashmir,” a state government official said.

Being a strategically important state that borders Pakistan and China, “it ought to have good road connectivity”, the official said.

As of now, the state is connected to the rest of the country through one highway, the Jammu Srinagar National Highway. Bad weather and landslides often renders this highway closed and snaps connectivity.

The new road projects, being implemented with central government funding, would improve the condition of the highway, but the connectivity problem remains in rural areas, officials said.

According to them, the irregular density of roads in the rural districts is one challenge the government faces.

Budgam district in Kashmir valley has highest road density of 81 percent while the lowest is Ladakh with only 2.6 percent.

Mountainous districts like Kargil and Doda have just 5 percent road density and they need huge investment to be at par with state standard, the officials told IANS.

“Over Rs.2,000 crore (Rs.20 billion) would be immediately required to be put into rural road connectivity in the state with gradual inflow later,” one official said.

Now the state is pinning its hope on the Rural Road Connectivity Scheme of the central government-sponsored Bharat Nirman project, which aims at connecting people living in plains and hilly areas with the rest of the country.

According to the officials, over 6,000 km of road should be constructed in the rural areas of the state.

“This will in fact lay the foundation of integrated development with pay-offs like peace dividends,” one official noted.

Like Jammu and Kashmir, states like Mizoram, Meghalaya and Nagaland also have a road density of little above 10 percent. Himachal Pradesh has highest density of 45 percent among the mountainous states.

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