Four-laning of NH-1 again misses deadline

The four-laning project in progress on the busiest Jalandhar-Pathankot national highway 1 has once again missed its deadline. Originally worth Rs 576 crore, the project which has missed several deadlines in nearly five years has seen an increase in construction cost by 30 per cent (Rs 750 crore).

The last deadline for the 105 km-long project from Bhogpur in Jalandhar to Madhopur near Pathankot was fixed for December, 2012. Earlier in the year, the deadline was August. This is the main highway that pilgrims take for the Amarnath and Vaishno Devi.

The project was initially set to start in 2005 and end in 2008. It was divided into three parts - from Bhogpur to Mukerian, Mukerian to Pathankot and Pathankot to Jammu border near Madhopur. Work between Bhogpur to Mukerian did not even start till May 2008.

"Earlier, NHAI had delayed the project by refusing to pay the proposed collector rates to landowners in some villages between Bhogpur to Mukerian. This led the landowners to file a case and delayed the project for years. Then the contractors hired by the NHAI left the project midway owing to high inflation rates. Now, no one knows the exact reason of the delay," said an NHAI official.

Project Director Vipnesh Sharma, when contacted, initially said he was in a meeting in Chandigarh. Later, when he was contacted again, he neither he picked up his phone nor replied to an SMS sent to him.

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