JAMMU: Hundreds of labourers went on a sudden strike on Tuesday, affecting the ongoing work on the double-tube 8.5-km Banihal-Qazigund tunnel along the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar national highway, officials said.
The tunnel is nearing completion and is expected to be opened for public use by March-end.
“Local labourers stayed away from work and also did not allow any type of work by skilled and unskilled non-local workers in the morning,” an official said.
He said the labourers are agitated over wages that are pending since August last year, although officials of the private construction company have claimed that the firm has already paid the money to the contractor concerned and there is no pendency of wages towards the labour force.
Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Banihal, Zaheer Abbas and Station House Officer (SHO), Banihal Nayeem-Ul-Haq met the protesting labourers, but they refused to resume work till the payment was made to them, the official said.
He said efforts are on to resolve the issue to ensure an early restoration of the work at the prestigious project.
The work on the Rs 2,100-crore project was started in June 2011 by the Navayuga Engineering Company.
Once completed, the tunnel would reduce the distance between Banihal in Jammu province and Qazigund in south Kashmir to 16 km from the present 35 km and bypass the Jawahar Tunnel and the Shaitan Nalla, which are prone to heavy snowfall and slippery conditions during winters.
The work on the project was delayed for several reasons in the last 10 years and many deadlines were missed due to the unexpected land condition inside the tunnel, alleged financial crisis in the construction company and certain issues related to local landlords and company workers.