After facing shortage of funds for road widening and macdamisation projects in the previous years, J&K government has received the entire quota of allocated funds of Rs 332.55 crore from the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways under the Central Road Fund (CRF) scheme during 2017-18 financial year, as per figures obtained from the Public Works Department.
“As a result of the major resource crunch at the state level, it was imperative to utilize entire quota of CRF,” said development commissioner, R&B department, Sheikh Abdul Hamid, who recently retired. “The way we have done macdamisation of 2100 kilometers in cities and towns out of state resources required Rs 640 crore funds. Our macdamised roads come with a cycle period of 4-5 years, which means our roads require renewal and upkeep almost every year and for which Rs 250 crore is needed every year,” said Hamid.
Hamid said previously every year the state was allocated Rs 350 crore under CRF but due to various reasons the maximum spending did not exceed Rs 112 crore. “We have lifted entire amount of allocated funds under CRF in the recently concluded financial year. During this year, 45 road projects were allocated under CRF in the Valley which will be completed by March 2019,” said Hamid.
Hamid said out of the total 8000 kms of macdamised roads, maintenance of 2000 kms of roads was needed, for which funds are required every year. “Earlier achieving this task was not possible due to resource crunch as we would get only Rs 50 crore for renewal of roads,” he said. “This was not sufficient for augmenting such as vast road infrastructure which led to the deterioration of roads made worse by the 2014 floods.”
In 2017, the state government blacktopped over 1302 km of roads across the state after halt in macadamisation of roads in Kashmir region during 2016. Out of the set target of 2100 km, 1000 km of road stretches were macadamized in Kashmir region. Official documents reveal that in 2016 the Public Works Department could macadamize only 30.64 km of roads in Kashmir, while in Jammu 1376.92 km of road was macadamized during the same period.