Road closed for 6th day
The machinery used in the clearance works on Srinagar-Jammu highway is obsolete, less efficient and the process is highly time-consuming, experts said Monday.
Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the sixth consecutive day Monday with thousands of passengers stranded on the route.
This year, the highway remained shut for more than 20 days, causing an immense dearth of essentials in the Valley.
Mir Adil, a regular traveler associated with the construction business, said until the road clearance is declared a disaster management issue and separate maintenance units are assigned to BRO, the Srinagar-Jammu highway would continue risking the lives of commuters.
“Instead of putting in place a separate unit and adequate machines to clear the highway, the highway authorities have given clearance work to Hindustan Construction Company which is supposed to look into road construction. Whenever there is any natural calamity, the construction companies leave the construction work mid-way and try managing the clearance work with inadequate machines,” he said.
Adil said executive agencies like Hindustan Construction Company or others will further be overloaded with financial constraint.
“They can do the normal maintenance work, but the weather vagaries of this magnitude disturbing the road should not be put on their shoulders. It requires high-level intervention to seek alternative measure on a war footing,” he said.
Adil said the specialised machines need to be put in place on the highway in a required number.
“The Divisional Administration, Monitoring and Planning Secretary, and Chairman NHAI need to coordinate, evaluate and take a decision on it,” he said.
Regional Officer NHAI, Hem Raj Bhagat said they were using many machines including excavators and bulldozers to clear the debris of landslides and stones.
“In fact, our three machines have been broken. Panthyal witnesses heavy shooting stones and it is difficult to put in the machinery in such a place,” he said.
According to the stranded passengers, there is dearth of adequate machinery to maintain and clear the road from stones, landslides and snow accumulation.
“I have witnessed the pathetic conditions on the highway. There are very few machines working on the ground. The process of clearance is very slow. Due to the slow process and inadequate machines, it is taking more days to clear the road,” said Gulzar Ahmad, who is stuck on the highway.
The passengers said poor condition on the highway exposed the inadequacy of the State’s quick response mechanism to any catastrophe.
“We don’t have a disaster management plan in place and lives are at stake,” said a lecturer, Nida Bashir, who was stuck on the highway last month.