Border Roads Organisation (BRO) chief, Lt Gen Raghu Srinivasan today called on Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh and briefed him about the Chattergala tunnel project as well as the other upcoming Road & Bridge projects in the Udhampur-Kathua-Doda Lok Sabha constituency.
Dr Jitendra Singh lauded the BRO for undertaking and completing a maximum number of projects in his Lok Sabha constituency including a number of difficult road and bridge projects in the last nine-and-a-half years on the request of public representatives or demand of the public. For the first time, the BRO had accomplished road connectivity up to the Zero Line on the International Border (IB), he said.
Udhampur-Kathua-Doda Lok Sabha constituency had witnessed unprecedented progress in road and bridge construction in the last over over nine years, the notable among them being the Atal Setu at Basohli, Keediyan Gadyal and Juthana bridges in Kathua, Devika Bridge at Udhampur, new National Highway from Khilani-Marmat in Doda to Sudhmahadev, Kaljugar tunnel etc.
Over one year back, Dr Jitendra Singh recalled, seven BRO bridges were e-inaugurated by Defence Minister Shri Rajnath Singh in Kathua district alone in one-go which included Jantriya, Konyali-I, Konyali-II, Chenab Badi, Pakka Kotha, Challa Nallah and Benadi. Of these, the Benadi bridge had been constructed in just 90 days which is a record in itself, he said.
Similarly on the 19th of this month, 11 infrastructure Projects were inaugurated by Shri Rajnath Singh in Jammu & Kashmir, which included three bridges namely Jotha, Sarad and Sarthi bridges on Road Basohli-Bani-Bhaderwah.
About the proposed Chattergala tunnel, Dr Jitendra Singh said, he had been pursuing the project for a long time but because of financial, topographical and other constraints including the Covid, it had got delayed. This vital tunnel, he said, will connect district Kathua with district Doda enroute the new Highway via Basohli-Bani through Chattergalla to touch Bhaderwah and Doda.
This is a historic landmark project providing all-weather alternate road connectivity between the two distant regions and reducing the travel time from Doda to Lakhanpur to just around four hours, he said.
Chattergala Project envisages a 6.8 Km long tunnel for which the Feasibility Survey has already been conducted by BRO and an exercise was undertaken by BEACONS which is an agency under BRO. The tunnel is likely to take about 4 years for completion after the execution work starts and its construction cost is around Rs. 3,000 to Rs 3,500 crore.
The Minister was briefed that the BRO has undertaken the work of Road Sarthal – Chattergala for development from single lane to double lane, including construction of 16 bridges. Out of a total of 165.85 Km of road, about 137 km has been black topped to NHDL specification. The work on the balance 28 Km road to Chattergala is under fast pace of progress by BRO. Construction of this road will unlock the tourism potential of the area, including the remote sector of Sarthal, Chattergala and Guridanda. In effect, tourism has increased manifold in the region due to persistent efforts of BRO in keeping the roads maintained to the highest standards and with the deployment of modern snow clearance equipment.
Since the BRO was facing some constraints of funds, Dr Jitendra Singh had also met the Union MoRTH Minister, Nitin Gadkari and requested for financial support to BRO through Bharatmala or any other appropriate channel from the MoRTH. Shri Gadkari’s response was positive and he issued instructions to work out how best this could be done, he added.
Dr Jitendra Singh impressed upon the BRO Director General to expedite the Chattergala project as fast as possible. He said, Chattergala is going to be a revolutionary game changer, particularly for the districts Kathua and Doda. He said, this will not only generate revenue but also job generation. Moreover, the all-weather road connectivity will bring ease of business, shorten the travel time and also provide a unique opportunity for places like Bani and Bhaderwah to emerge as tourist destinations of national repute, he added.
Dr. Jitendra Singh said, the demand for the tunnel at Chattergalla had been pending for several years, but somehow not taken up by earlier governments because of their different priorities.
Dr Jitendra Singh informed that while Benadi bridge had been constructed in just 90 days by the BRO, which is a BRO record till date, the Pakka Kotha bridge, which is 181 metres long multi-span bridge, had been built in 102 days. The BRO projects also included construction of Ramban bridge and Brihon bridge.
The other BRO projects in this constituency include road from Bhagwa to Lal-Darman to Masal-Dushnan in district Doda, Chkramore-Maharajpur-Rajbagh-Haria Chak road in district Kathua and upgradation of Phatala to Jakhani road in district Udhampur. Lt Gen Srinivasan also briefed Dr. Jitendra Singh about new BRO road and bridge projects coming up in his Lok Sabha constituency.