Almost every year, a number of human lives are devoured by the Kupwara-Karnah road which is highly vulnerable to snow avalanches, landslides and accidents.
Post -1947, the landlocked Karnah’s all connectivity with the rest of world got snapped except the link with its district headquarters Kupwara. But travelling through the route is risky in absence of the much-needed tunnel which would also have ensured round-the-year connectivity to the region.
The construction of an all-weather Sadhna tunnel is still a distant dream as the Government of India is yet to give its green signal to the project.
Official documents accessed by Greater Kashmir reveal that Directorate General of Military Operations wrote to the Directorate General Border Roads on June 18, 2008 to explore construction of tunnels at various passes in Jammu & Kashmir to have all-weather connectivity.
On October 24, 2008, the proposal was operationally endorsed for feasibility study for construction of tunnels at various passes including Sadhana.
The approval in principle was accorded in 2009 for detailed feasibility study of tunnel at Sadhana pass. Subsequently, the Beacon authorities invited bids for the feasibility study of the tunnel at Sadhana pass and M/S 3G Vayamtech emerged as the lowest bidder (Rs 11.46 crore).
Later, the case was sent to secretariat Border Roads Development Board (BRDB) for approval.
In Jan 2017, then minister for Roads & Buildings Abdul Rehman Veeri told the Legislative Assembly that project “Beacon” has proposed to construct a 6.12 kilometre long Sadhana tunnel on Chowkibal- Tangadhar- Chamkot (km28 to km 42) road.
The minister also said that a detailed proposal for carrying out pre-feasibility study and framing up of phase-wise proposals of the tunnel has been forwarded by the project Beacon to headquarters Directorate General Border Roads. “The sanction for which is awaited,” the minister said.
When contacted, Beacon authorities refused to comment on the status on the proposal.
“I don’t speak on official matters,” Colonel Ajay Hooda of project Beacon told Greater Kashmir.
Another senior officer of the Project Beacon, wishing anonymity, said the project can be prioritized for construction if J&K government vigorously pursues it with the Defence Ministry. “The project has been put on second priority,” he said, adding that state government can get its priority re-fixed.
Minister for Roads and Buildings, Naeem Akther said the state government has repeatedly taken up the matter with the Centre. “It is our priority,” he said, adding that connectivity is must for social and economic progress and prosperity of the people.
He also said nine tunnels are coming up in the State.
The failure of J&K successive regimes to get tunnel sanctioned for Karnah has triggered a widespread resentment in the area, with residents accusing politicians of deceiving them.
“Chief Ministers remembers us only at the time of elections and promises us then that they will get tunnel for the area. But their promises and assurances have proved to be a hoax,” said Nazir Ahmad, a residents of Karnah.
“They (ministers and MLAs) only talk about tunnel when tragedies struck the area. Hundreds of lives could have been saved had government constructed the tunnel.”
Ruling PDP legislator from Karnah Raja Manzoor had told this newspaper last year that Chief Minister has promised to the people of Karnah that the tunnel will be constructed.
“She (Mehbooba Mufti) has taken up the issue with the defence minister during her recent visit to Kashmir,” Manzoor had said.