The Jammu and Kashmir administration has asked concerned departments to ensure that roads are not damaged while clearing snow, however, officials said that damage was “inevitable” as the department does not have enough equipment to prevent the damage.
The meeting was chaired by Farooq Ahmad Khan, advisor to Lieutenant Governor Jammu and Kashmir, Manoj Sinha, last week to take a review of winter preparedness of various departments in Kashmir Division. The details of the meeting were made public on Monday (22 November 2021).
During the meeting it was impressed, as per the minutes of a meeting, upon Mechanical engineering department (MED) and Roads and Building (R&B)Department, “while clearing the snow, on the roads it shall be ensured that the roads are not damaged.”
Most parts of the Kashmir region receive heavy snowfall during winters that lead to blockade of roads. The work of snow clearance on the roads is being dealt with by the MED and R&B department of the government of Jammu and Kashmir.
The departments as per the officials lack equipment and machines specifically made for the snow clearance as the Mechanical Engineering Department has only 210 machines that include snow cutters, snow trucks, snow tractors etc that are “not enough to cater the demand”.
The Kashmir region has nearly 16 thousand kilometers of road length and nearly 50 to 60 percent of roads are catered by the MED department “given the availability of machines and equipment” and snow on the rest of the roads is cleared by the R & B department,” said an official.
Rashid Ahmad, Chief Engineer Mechanical Engineer Department while talking to The Kashmir Walla said, “our machines do not damage the roads as they have smooth snow cutting edges installed, we keep it 25 to 50 millimeters above the roads so that roads are not damaged.”
“Snow on little over half of the road network in the division is cleared by the department given its capacity,” he added. “These are the first priority roads that include highways, inter district roads, health care, institutional roads etc.”
However, Ahmad admitted that the R&B department outsources the clearance work to private contractors who lack proper equipment and machinery. “Policy is being made that they may be provided with snow ploughs. We are collecting details from the department to check what kind of equipment they require and what equipment contractors have,” Ahmad said.
“For an overall policy we have to develop more machines and we are working on it. It may take a year or so,” he said.
An official of the R&B department confirmed to The Kashmir Walla that the works are outsourced to private contractors who mostly do not have specific snow clearance machines and usually use tractors.
“Plains roads hardly get damaged by using tractors but the roads that are not plain get minor damages,” he said.