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Road projects in J&K still in limbo after deadline passed 17 years ago

PMGSY is citing excuses to explain delay in execution of hundreds of centrally sponsored road projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

Documents reveal that there were 2,738 unconnected habitations in J&K till April 2000. 1,694 (62 per cent) habitations were connected from 2000 to 2018 and remaining 1,044 (38 per cent) habitations are yet to be connected. The Government of India sanctioned 2,202 habitations from 2000 to 2018. Out of these, a total of 508 (23 per cent) habitations are still waiting to be connected.

From 2000 to 2018, the Government of India sanctioned 196 habitations (Ramban: 20, Rajouri: 36, Udhampur: 87, Jammu: 10, Baramulla: 8, Ganderbal: 7, Kupwara: 7, Anantnag: 19 and Leh: 2). Out of these, a total of 85 (43 per cent) habitations are yet to be connected. Out of unconnected habitations, 112 habitations with more than 1,000 persons, 276 habitations with above 500 persons and 656 habitations with a population of 250 persons and above are still unconnected while their deadline have been passed for many years.

Out of 139 habitations sanctioned, 51 habitations with population of 250 and above are yet to be connected. This delay is caused by problematic circumstances like difficulties in acquisition of land, forest clearance and lengthy court cases. As a result of these problems, the targets could not be achieved within deadline. The Government of India provided a Rs 710 crore special onetime dispensation for land acquisition covering compensatory afforestation, forest land, trees, private land and structures for completion of PMGSY programme. PIUs still have Rs 152.04 crore lying with them.

Moreover, only Rs 44.51 crore were utilised for land acquisition while PIUs released Rs 370.70 crore. The department was also required to ensure that land is available before approval of DPRs is granted by the concerned authority.

It can be also found in documents that out of total 2,579 road projects consisting of both new construction and up-gradation of road works (road length: 14,026.15 km) which were initiated under Phase-I, 1,567 (61 per cent) road projects (new connectivity and upgradation works) contributing to 8,467.38 km road length (60 per cent) were completed till March 2018. It left 959 road projects of road length: 5,210.56 km which shows improper planning and choosing new projects without completing previous ones.

Authorities claimed that this poor progress in these projects is caused by non-acquisition of private land, diversion of forest land, shifting of public utilities, regular problems caused by local people of the area and court cases. However, it is clearly mentioned in the PMGSY guidelines that state government is responsible for making sure that land is available for projects.

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