Jammu, Apr 11 : Setting the tone right on the track for infrastructural development, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari on Tuesday said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will dedicate 670-kilometer long Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Greenfield expressway in February or March 2024 before Lok Sabha polls
According to the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), Gadkari while interacting with reporters here in Katra, said, “I have been told that Rs 40,000 crore Delhi-Amritsar- Katra Greenfield expressway would be complete around December 2024. I hope that it will be ready well before as in May we will see elections (Lok Sabha) and if it (expressway) will complete after that it is of no use to us to inaugurate and I am not hesitant to accept the truth.”
“I hope that the expressway will be ready well before the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and it will be inaugurated in February-March by Prime Minister,” he said, adding, “I have directed NHAI (National Highway Authority of India) to complete the work so that Prime Minister will inaugurate it in February–March 2024.”
He further said that the expressway will fully connect Kashmir with Kanyakumari.
Gadkari said that with the development of state-of-the-art road networks across the country through every state and UT, the Kashmir to Kanyakumari will no longer be a dream for the people of India. “We built Atal Tunnel in Manali which connects Ladakh and then Z-Morh tunnels connect Kashmir and followed by this expressway, which connects Jammu with Rajasthan and Gujarat, and then to Southern states,” he said.
On redevelopment of Katra, the union minister said that Inter Modal Station (IMS) to be established in Katra will be a world-class state-of-the-art project constructed to improve travelling experience of the pilgrims visiting Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine.
He also announced that the 110 km long Amarnath Marg–leading to the holy Amarnath cave in Pahalgam will be built at a cost of around Rs 5300 crore for the convenience of the pilgrims going to Shri Amarnath Shrine.
Earlier, the minister said that four more tunnels will come up on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway which will reduce the travel time.
Speaking to media persons after inspecting the Nayvug Banihal-Qazigund tunnel, Gadkari said that on the 245 km stretch of the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, a three-lane marg would come up and work on the 200 km has been completed.
“Today we have achieved a breakthrough on one tunnel and on the 45 km long stretch three more tunnels will be completed by March next year,” Gadkari said, adding the work of one tunnel has been given to TATA which will take time and when these tunnels are complete it will reduce the travel time.
With the construction of this route, there will be all-weather connectivity between Jammu and Srinagar. Travel time from Srinagar to Jammu will be reduced from 9-10 hours to 4-5 hours.
A carriageway of a 40 km 4-lane road between Ramban and Banihal will be completed by June 2024 which will provide relief to the commuters of Srinagar.
The Union Minister said with the construction of these roads will connect Katra with Delhi and Delhi to Srinagar. He said it will provide an impetus to the social and economic growth of Jammu and Kashmir.
He said a resort would also come up on the road stretch where the handicrafts, handloom and other known items would be put for sale and at least 500 local people will get jobs.
Gadkari said that he came to know that during the construction work of the Nayvug Tunnel, 99 percent of the staff working on it is local.
He said after completing the road infrastructure four times more tourist inflow would increase which will improve the economic growth of Jammu and Kashmir.
“I often remember late American president John F Kennedy saying that American roads are not good because America is rich and America is rich because American roads are good,” he said.
Moreover, Gadkari said, developmental works worth Rs 1,30,000 crore are being taken up by MoRTH in J&K and since 2014, around 500 km of the road network has been completed in the region. “41 significant tunnels are being constructed in J&K and Ladakh at a cost of Rs 45,000 crore, and 18 ropeways worth Rs 5,000 crore will be constructed in the UT,” Gadkari informed—(KNO)