Vital bridge completed on under construction strategic Bhaderwah-Basholi-Pathankot highway

Bhaderwah (J-K), Jun 24 (PTI) Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Wednesday e-inaugurated 'Puneja Bridge' on the strategically important under construction Bhaderwah-Basholi-Pathankot National Highway in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district.

The 50-meter-span bridge over Puneja stream, 10 km from Bhadarwah town on the highway, was built by 114 RCC of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in 36 months at an estimated cost of Rs 409.25 lakh, officials said.

They said the completion of the bridge would facilitate the widening of the road at a rapid pace and would also pave the way to move heavy machinery which are required for the construction of the proposed Chattagala tunnel on this road.

Singh, the minister of state in the Prime Minister's Office, addressed the gathering through video-conference from Delhi after the e-inauguration of the bridge.

He said, “Despite the lockdown, we made it sure that the developmental works should not get affected in Doda district and there should be no paucity of the labour to continue the developmental activities.' 'Perhaps Doda is the only district in the country where not one but three big tunnels are being built at Kaljugasar, which will connect the area with Chamba (Himachal Pradesh), Sudmahadev tunnel and Chattargala tunnel on Bhaderwah-Basholi-Pathankot Road, which will provide all weather connectivity to Kashmir from Punjab,' Singh, who represents Doda-Udhampur-Kathua constituency in Parliament, said.

The 185-km-long Bhaderwah-Basholi-Pathankot highway, besides having a strategic importance for defence, will also provide a vital alternate link to connect Kashmir with the rest of the country through Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban districts.

The road was handed over to BRO by the Public Works Department in 1986 and presently, the responsibility of the sector from Bani (Km 89) to Bahderwah (Km 165.85) is with 114 RCC/35BRTF /Project Beacon, the officials said.

'The road is being widened to national highway specifications and the existing bridges on the road are also being upgraded. There is also proposal for construction of a tunnel at Chattergala Pass (10,540-ft above the sea level) on this road to ensure the all-weather connectivity to the Kashmir valley from the Punjab region,' Commander 35 Border Roads Task Force of BRO H Murthy said.

Once the road is completed, he said, almost half of the traffic coming from Pathankot going towards Kashmir would move through this road since the distance will reduce by about 120 km from the existing Jammu-Srinagar road.

“This will give opportunity to the local population to start their own businesses and will lead to the overall development of the area which is rich in natural resources and has hydro-power generation potential,” Murty said.

Apart from this, the officials said the tourism industry would also get an impetus due to the construction of this road since the road alignment passes through a large number of potential tourist and pilgrimage spots. PTI CORR TAS AB AQS AQS