SRINAGAR, AUG 24: In a significant development aimed at enhancing road connectivity and improving the commuting experience for the public, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary, chaired a comprehensive review meeting with senior officials from the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) and the J&K Government.
The meeting focused on evaluating the condition of road connectivity along NH-44, specifically from Jammu to Kathua, and deliberating on immediate steps to enhance the road conditions for the comfort of commuters.
Attending the meeting were prominent figures including Santosh Kumar Yadav, Chairperson of NHAI, Shailendra Kumar, Principal Secretary of the Public Works (R&B) Department, Mukesh Singh, ADGP of Jammu, Ramesh Kumar, Divisional Commissioner of Jammu, Deputy Commissioners of Samba and Kathua, the Regional Officer of NHAI, and other senior officers from the Union Territory and NHAI.
The Chairperson of NHAI commenced the session by providing an overview of the ongoing initiatives along National Highway-44, presenting the current status of road connectivity from Jammu to Kathua. The officials also shared efforts being undertaken to reduce travel time along this route and restore the crucial Tarnah Bridge.
Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta sought detailed information regarding the segments of NH-44 most affected by the monsoon season. He also reviewed the ongoing projects aimed at easing travel for commuters on these stretches.
The meeting addressed the Tarnah Bridge issue, acknowledging it as a consequence of a natural calamity that has significantly prolonged travel time. NHAI assured the Chief Secretary of their dedicated efforts to restore the bridge promptly, despite challenges posed by frequent flash floods. Dr Mehta instructed NHAI to ensure the readiness of the causeway for light motor vehicle (LMV) traffic within the upcoming week.
Regarding reports of poor road conditions on certain stretches, the Chief Secretary directed NHAI to prioritize black-topping of all service roads and elimination of potholes within a week's timeframe. This action is aimed at providing smooth alternate connectivity for commuters, particularly considering the ongoing works.
Addressing concerns related to the Thandikhui toll plaza, NHAI assured the public of their commitment to convenience. A provision for monthly passes at a nominal cost of Rs 300 for residents living within 20 kilometers of the toll plaza and commercial monthly passes at Rs 2700, allowing for 50 trips, was confirmed.
Chief Secretary Dr Arun Kumar Mehta directed the Divisional Commissioner, NHAI Regional Officer, and relevant Deputy Commissioners to conduct a joint assessment of the current road conditions along NH-44 from Jammu to Lakhanpur. The assessment aims to identify immediate measures to alleviate commuter issues and reduce travel time. Based on the findings, a follow-up review will take place tomorrow.