The widening of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, the only all-weather road linking Kashmir with the rest of the world, would be completed within one-and-a-half years, a senior government official said.
Finance Commissioner, Revenue, Pawan Kotwal, who is also the nodal officer of the National Highway four-laning project, said the 8.5-km Banihal-Qazigund tunnel on the road is near completion and would be thrown open for public soon.
The highway widening work started in 2011 with the target of completing it within five years.
With the four-laning of the highway, travel time would get reduced by half as the distance would be reduced by 50 km, bypassing a number of treacherous points.
Kotwal on Friday inspected the pace of the ongoing construction works between Banihal and Nashri, the most problematic stretch of the highway, an official spokesperson said Saturday.
The Finance Commissioner inspected construction works at Chamalwas, Nachilana, Ramsoo, Seri, Ramban, Chanderkote and Dahlwas besides directing the officers concerned to remove bottlenecks hindering the project.
He was informed that the land acquisition process had been completed and all the working sites had been handed over to the NHAI for starting construction works, the spokesperson said.
Expressing satisfaction over the pace of work, the finance commissioner said the project would be completed within one-and-half years.
"In view of the topography of the hilly terrain between Ramban and Banihal, a detailed project report (DPR) worth Rs 2000 crore was being formulated by the NHAI to complete the changed 16-km four-laning realigned project which included more tunnels and bridges to avoid landsliding and sinking areas," Kotwal said.
He also instructed the NHAI and contractors engaged in the widening of the NH 44 to ensure proper maintenance of existing roads for hassle-free movement of vehicles.
"J&K is currently ranked number one among the UTs on implementation of reforms. Urban infrastructure, mobility, and communication networks are being upgraded to provide a conducive environment," he said.
He said Jammu Kashmir is a global tourist destination and is famous for recreational tourism, which is the second largest after the agriculture sector in the region and around 30 percent population is directly or indirectly linked to this sector.
Besides having leisure tourism, Jammu Kashmir has the great potential for adventure, heritage and pilgrimage tourism as well.
"To increase the footprints, the government has drawn up a comprehensive policy for their development," Murmu said.
He said the start-up policy had already been rolled out in J&K for creation of 500 new start-ups besides establishing incubators, innovation and incubation labs.
The health sector has been transformed with the opening of seven new medical colleges and the doubling of medical seats in one year.
"The government is also planning to organise its global investment summit soon. It will be announced once the COVID-19 is under control," he said.
Extending an open invitation to the investors, Lt Governor said, "I would like to invite you all to participate and visit the region.
"Collaborate with us and help us further refine and further expand our ideas. We will be posting individual officers (for your assistance) and on behalf of the government, I assure you fullest support for your interest in J&K."
He said it would be the endeavour of the government to create an ecosystem that would not only propel growth and create employment but will also lead to sustainable development in today's world.
"The business communities of India and the UK have played a very important role in the development of strategic relationships to synergize various sectors. I urge all of you to engage with J&K on the same synergy for the development of sectors which had remained in economic backwater," he said.
In an apparent reference to the revocation of the special status to J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution in August last year, Murmu said, "We have removed all regulatory and institutional barriers between J&K and India and ushering in one nation, one framework in the true sense."
He said the legal architecture of the regulatory regime prevailing in India had been made applicable to J&K.
"This has been done to remove economic barriers, increase investment and facilitate equality in the region," he said.
Referring to the local bodies elections in 2018, he said a strong grass-root democracy had been set up with the gallant participation of the people at the lowest level of the government in village council and urban local bodies.
"We are reviving the rural economy by pumping in public investment the last one year saw tremendous achievement in terms of good governance, deliverance, development of infrastructure. Many of the projects which were pending for years together have been either completed or on the verge of completion," he said.
He said more than 800 languishing projects of public importance were completed last year.
In addition to the Prime Minister's vision of inclusive growth, sustainable development and to propel J&K as a growth engine, the J&K government has taken initiatives to transform the region into another investment destination for sustainable development he said.
He said the J&K government was focused on ensuring a favourable working climate for the industry and has come up with various sector specific policies.