Editorial | Perilous Highways

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Kashmir connects to the adjoining areas like Jammu, Ladakh, Chinab Valley and Pir Panjal region through major roads that we commonly know as highways. But these highways are frequently in news for the reasons like closure, landslides, long jams, and snow avalanches. None of these highways is dependable in the winter months, and because of the associated perils, like landslides and snow avalanches, people are always scared of driving on these roads. The news of accidents on these roads is not at all an unfamiliar affair. We have had many lives lost on these roads. The news of a  cab getting buried under snow on the Srinagar-Leh highway and the persons inside having a miraculous escape is nothing new. We have such stories of miraculous escape galore. People in Kashmir recount horrible stories of their travel on these roads. The question is that for how long will people have to suffer on this account. In this age and day there are roads in far more dangerous terrains and they are much safer.

In fact there are machines and methods now available to widen the roads in such hilly terrains, defend the road surface against the avalanches, and landslides, and by pass the more problematic zones by digging tunnels. Modern day technology has made it possible to defend the roads in hilly areas against the vagaries of weather and challenges of terrain. But in our case the dangers on these highways don’t seem to go away. And this results not only in the loss of economy, the loss of academic and professional opportunities, but is a direct threat to the lives of the people. How many lives are lost on these roads, and how many families have got ruined. The upshot of this all is that these roads are not only insufficient but dangerous. Unless we have adequate number of tunnels constructed on all these roads the dangers will remain there and more human lives will be lost. To make these roads dependable and secure, the need to build more tunnels, and complete the under-construction tunnels, goes without saying. For how long do we need to emphasise the obvious.