|Early Times Report|
Jammu, Sept 10: National Conference Provincial President Devender Singh Rana on Monday expressed grave concern over the reports about leaks developed in all four tunnels on the Jammu-Udhampur National Highway just in about 45 months of opening and urged the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) to come clear on the reports, as it involves safety of travellers and transportation of supplies.
"The NHAI must take immediate cognizance of the credible reports and dispel fears among the travelling people, vehicular operators and commuters", Rana said in a statement after visiting the tunnels this afternoon, adding that the national highway is a lifeline to Kashmir and Ladakh regions and its round the clock opening will have to be ensured at all costs
Rana hoped that NHAI and the Ministry of Surface Transport will earnestly depute a team of experts to carry out safety audit. He said the nation cannot afford even brief closure of this link, as the surface transport is the only feasible link with the Valley and Ladakh.
The Provincial President said that if the reports of these tunnels having developed leaks last year are true then an impartial inquiry is needed to be initiated to identify those who kept this issue of immense public importance under the carpet. He said the security audit should cover all aspects from planning, survey and execution of this multi-core national project with special thrust on identifying those responsible for the sub standard execution.
He said the tunnels, described as engineering marvel, are reported to have gone certain renovation processes after the initial reports of leakage but the problem is alleged to have resurfaced again.
"This is alarming, especially as any such leakage has potential to put in jeopardy the safety of the Vaishno Devi and the Valley kind commuters', Rana maintained.
Rana also asked the NHAI and the Jammu and Kashmir Government to come out with the fact sheet to dispel apprehensions, and if required close the tunnels till safety is ensured.
"In such an eventuality the old routes could be activated till the tunnels are safe", he said, adding that this can offset panic gripping the people.
He sought accountability of the concerned for substandard execution of the work.
Meanwhile, Rana expressed profound grief and shock over the sad demise of the former Secretary, J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages, Prof Dr Rita Jitendra, describing it a huge loss to the State, especially the literary and intellectual fraternity.
"Prof Rita Jitendra was a live personality, which she proved beyond any doubt by breathing her last while being on live broadcast of DD Kashir", Rana said, adding that a deep void has been created by her death, which is hard to fill.
Rana recalled immense contribution of Prof Jitendra towards harmonious growth of the society and said her career as an academician and administrator will inspire generations to come. He said Prof Rita Jitendra was an orator of par excellence and a good human being,, who has left an indelible mark in variant fields of culture and women emancipation.
Rana said that Prof Rita Jitendra will be remembered as an icon, who was humane and compassionate towards one and all. He expressed solidarity with her admirers and conveyed condolences to the bereaved family.
Rana prayed for peace to the departed soul.