Jammu and Kashmir is, for the first time, scaling targets for developmental works in road communication sector under various centrally-sponsored schemes, signaling an important breakthrough in this key sector.“This achievement of our engineers has opened new vistas for progress, employment generation and prosperity in our state. We have proven that we can improve our capacity of utilizing resources and it has become possible because of the renewed enthusiasm of our engineers,” Minister of Public Works, Naeem Akhtar said today.The Minister was speaking during a review meeting of the developmental works carried out by the Roads and Buildings Department in various parts of the state during last year and to discuss the plan for developmental works this year.During the meeting, the Minister was informed that the state met the eligibility under Central Road Fund (CRF) of around Rs 342 crore last fiscal, which has opened an opportunity to get the fund limit for J&K under the scheme enhanced in coming years.“The funds can be utilized for clearing liability of held-up works while the government is in a position now to implement the agenda of development in far-flung areas of the state,” the Minister said, adding that the state can lift Rs 1000 crore under CRF or more due to proven spending capacity.The Minister was informed that under Pradhan Mantri Gram SadakYojna, Jammu and Kashmir used to set a target of laying down 400-500 km new roads. “We are one of the first states to have achieved the target. This year, we will carry out works worth more than Rs 1800 crore under the said scheme,” he said.Akhtar complimented the engineers from PWD and others stakeholders for ensuring that the state builds capacities and capabilities for a better future. “The fact that the situation remained conducive has helped the government in expanding the ambit of development in the state,” he said.The Minister said the state will avail more funds under various schemes from the Centre based on the existing performance, “We have got the highest amount under NABARD. Under CRF, 400 km of roads will be laid down while last year it was only 320 KMs. This capacity building will take our state to new heights of progress in coming years,” he said.
Akhtar said Jammu and Kashmir under the leadership of chief minister Mehbooba Mufti is achieving new heights of progress and prosperity, and the roads in rural areas, as well as towns and cities, are in for major transformation in coming months and years. He stressed the engineers to ensure beautification of roads by planting more trees and flowers in the open spaces.He said Jammu and Kashmir has introduced various reforms to improve the systems of governance and infuse a culture of transparency and accountability in the administration, “Reforms like standard bidding document and dispensing with the archaic practices of seeking hard copies of bid documents from contractors will address corrupt practices. We have also improved the capacity building of contractors and from this year their claims will be settled on a monthly basis,” he said.The Works Minister said the state government is aiming to promote entrepreneurship in capacity building and efforts are being made to remove hassles in this regard. “Our bidding capacities have improved while joint venture process has been simplified to give a boost to developmental works,” Akhtar said.The Minister told the meeting that the state government has deferred the implementation of the PAO System so as to recalibrate the process of financial transactions with the demands of the new system, “PAO system has been delayed, not rejected. The system is facing some difficulties in implementing it and the obstacles are being removed.According to the R&B Department’s Action Plan for 2018-19, 22.35 km roads will be built/upgraded under NABARD in Srinagar district while 5 kms will be done under CRF. For Budgam, 37.20 kms and 47.25 kms respectively; for Anantnag, 35 and 57 kms; for Kulgam, 32.13 and 7 kms, for Baramulla, 47.35 and 39 kms, for Kupwara, 30.7 and 38 kms; for Pulwama, 40.85 and 66.75 kms; for Shopian, 22.60 and 11 kms; for Bandipora, 27.95 and 21.65 and for Ganderbal, 16 and 0 km respectively, totaling 312.13 km under NABARD and 292.65 km under CRF.The meeting was held at Banquet Hall in Srinagar and it was also attended by Commissioner Secretary, R&B, Sanjiv Verma, Chief Engineers of R&B, ERA and PMGSY, senior and executive engineers of R&B and other allied departments as well as the officers of JKPCC and other departments.