JK rejects GoI move to declare Khannabal-Panjtarni route as ‘national highway’
State Govt declines NoC, cites environmental concerns
Jammu and Kashmir government has rejected the Centre’s move to declare the Khannabal-Panjtarni road in south Kashmir’s Anantnag (Islamabad) district as a National Highway, refusing to grant No Objection Certificate (NoC) to the proposal in view of the enormous environmental concerns.
The documents obtained from the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MORTH) reveal that JK has conveyed its disagreement to declaration of the road as a Highway.
In his communication (NO: NH-14013/10/2011-P&M-Pt dated February 6, 2014), Secretary MORTH Vijay Chibber has asked JK Chief Secretary to reconsider the State Government’s earlier decision of refusal to grant NOC for the proposal.
“You may appreciate that this Ministry had declared new NH No. 501 in the State of Jammu & Kashmir keeping in view the requirement of connectivity at national level. Once NOC is received, MORTH being a Central Ministry would be in a better position to obtain the requisite clearances including environmental approval from Ministry of Environment & Forests,” the communiqué reads.
The Union Secretary has intimated the CS that Commissioner/Secretary JK’s Public Works Department has expressed reservations towards furnishing NoC on account of environmental issues.
“I would be grateful, if you could kindly have the matter reconsidered and arrange to communicate us the State Government’s “No Objection” and transfer all the assets related to NH-501 to the Government of India so that development of roads/ routes as per National Highway specifications can be commenced at the earliest.”
In response, the State Government has once again opposed the proposal tooth and nail.
The R&B department on April 11, 2014 has communicated its reservations to the Union Ministry.
“In this connection, I am to say that the said issue came up for discussion during the meeting of the Cabinet Secretary (GoI) held recently with the Chief Secretary, J&K through video conferencing wherein the State Government expressed its constraints to convey “No Objection” to transfer of “Panjtarni-Chandanwari-Pahalgam-Batakoot-Martand- Khannabal road” primarily on account of its difficult topography/ terrain by virtue of which the said road stretch remains cut–off for most of the period each year together with host of environmental issues related to it,” the letter written by R&B department to the Union Secretary reads.
The State Government has demanded that instead Mughal road be declared as National Highway.
“Instead of the aforementioned road, it is once again requested to kindly consider declaration of Mughal road as National Highway which is not only strategically important but also provides alternate connectivity to Kashmir province,” the state govt communiqué reads.