The Srinagar-Jammu Highway remained closed yet again. And once again there is a shortage of essentials in Kashmir and eatables like fresh vegetables are rotting in hundreds of stranded trucks.
For importing an egg to collard greens from outside the state, and having lost its age-old self-sufficiency, the highway is no less than life line for people in Kashmir.
The only road connecting Kashmir Valley to rest of the country closing during snow and showers to the disadvantage and hardship of seven million people of Kashmir has become a perineal problem.
Instead of adopting a cosmetic approach to this problem, it needs to be looked at in the context of the immense hardships it causes to the people, and the adverse impact it has on their economy; and then accordingly addressed. In 2022, three years later the road previously called the Banihall Cart Road (B.C. Road) will be completing hundred years of its construction.
It was constructed as an alternative road to the all-weather Jhelum Valley Cart Road, (JVC), connecting Kashmir to rest of the world, that over of period of time had emerged as the main artery of the Kashmir economy.
The objective behind constructing this road was connecting the summer and winter capitals, and it was meant for the use of royal family and ruling elite. After having lost the Jhelum Valley Road in 1948, all-out efforts were made to improve the B.C. Road; billions were spent on constructing tunnels and upgrading the road.
The road passing through highly prone land-sliding zones has been substantially improved cannot be denied.
Nonetheless, it could not be made into an all season road, given to its topography. The best alternative is to work on the up-gradation of the alternative roads. The construction of the Moghul Road connecting Poonch, and Rojouri with Kashmir Valley took five decades to convince the Government of India has finally become a reality.
Nonetheless, to make this road all-weather there is need to speed up work on the already approved tunnel on this road between Zaznar and Chattapani. More than a year back the ministry of road transport and highways had invited tenders for the construction of this tunnel, but there has been no progress.
The state government needs to impress upon the union government to speed up work on this vital tunnel on the Moghul Road. Also work on the tunnels connect Kashmir with Kishtwar and Kargil needs to be taken up.