The residents of scores of villages in south Kashmir's Shopian district Sunday demanded speedy construction of the 30-km Shopian-Bijbehara road.
The project has been lingering on for the past over four years and only a 12-km stretch has been completed so far.
According to an R&B official, the first leg of the Rs 49 crore project was taken up in 2016 under the Central Road Fund (CRF) and the work went on sporadically for more a year due to certain legal disputes.
"However, in 2017-2018, the work was started in double shift and around 12 km were completed," the official said. "Since then the work has been paused due to the paucity of funds."
The shifting of utility lines by the Power Development Department (PDD) and the Public Health Engineering (PHE) had also hindered the construction work.
The road connects at least 90 villages including the apple-rich villages of Imamasahib, Chitaragam, Nagbal, Hilow and Zainpora with Bijbehara.
The Shopian-Bijbehara road could prove an arterial route for the annual Amarnath yatra via Mughal Road.
Presently, the yatris have to take a meandering Pampore road to reach Pahalgam, which extends their journey time by at least 40 to 50 minutes.
"Presently the road is filled with potholes, causing hardships to the commuters," said Nadeem Ahmad, a resident of Chitragam.
Locals said that the snowfall had battered the road further, forcing the motorists to take a detour to reach Bijbehara.
"Even the cab drivers are not inclined to ply on the road as it causes damages to their vehicles," they said.
A motorcycle rider said that he broke his leg as he was thrown off balance while hitting a bump.
The residents said that the widening process of the road was also taken up in 2016 and the construction of upto 40 feet from either side of the road was prohibited.
"The road was widened at various places. However, as the government halted construction work on the road, people started erecting structures on the road," local said.
Former PDP MLA Aijaz Ahmad Mir told Greater Kashmir that the construction of the road could boost the business in the area.
"People are facing a host of issues due to the battered road. The authorities must complete the remaining work without further delay as the road will serve as a lifeline for the district," Mir said.
He said that even in Shopian town, the narrow and battered road was responsible for frequent traffic jams.
Executive Engineer R&B Division, Shopian, Muhammad Ayoub said that the department had already sent the proposal to the government under the languishing projects and the work would be started once the funds were released.