The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of Doda-Dessa-Kapran road for the portion falling in the Valley prepared by the Roads and Building department is under observation of the government for one year.
The project cost for 47-km road stretch from Hengipora–Kapran village in Verinag, from the valley side has been estimated at Rs 210 crore.
“We had only last year prepared the DPR for the road excluding a tunnel for now, and forwarded it to the government for final approval,” Chief Engineer R&B, Sami Aarif told Greater Kashmir. He said, it was still under government’s observation.
“Once we get the nod we will start the process,” he said, adding that the DPR from the Doda side till Desa has to be prepared by the Jammu division.
Conceived decades ago, the road that could have linked Kashmir with several areas in Jammu, which was part of erstwhile undivided Doda district, and also provided an alternate link between Srinagar and Jammu, still remains a distant dream for the people.
Even the suggestions of elevating the status of this vital road which runs parallel to Srinagar-Jammu NH44 to the national highway has been so far given cold shoulder by the central government.
The proposal to construct Doda-Desa-Kapran road was mooted in 1977. The work was started in 1978 but abandoned soon.
Once completed, the road would have linked districts of Doda, Ramban, and even Kishtwar with Anantnag district in the southern part of Kashmir.
It could have reduced the distance between Srinagar and Doda by 90-km by cutting the distance to 140 km from the current 229 km through Jawahar Tunnel.
In fact, Doda will just be 45 km from Kashmir valley’s southern end via Dooru in Anantnag district.
However, in the past four decades, the Roads and Building department, which is the executing agency for the project has completed work on the 24-km stretch from Doda side only while the 47 km from Kashmir side from Anantnag is still not motorable.
On the Doda side, the road is motorable up to Manjami in Desa area and it is motorable till Hengipora-Kapran village in Dooru- Verinag Tehsil on Kashmir side.
Completing the link and reducing the distance further require the construction of a tunnel across the Pir Panchal range.
“Little has been done to start the construction of the 7-km-long long tunnel which was to come up near Gayi in Desa,” the official said, adding that state government had announced the construction of the tunnel in the year 2009.
In 2016, senior Congress leader and former chief minister Ghulam Nabi Azad asked the government of India to declare Doda-Dessa- Kapran Road as a National Highway.
“It is high time that the road be handed over to national highway authorities or the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) so that the project at least sees some progress,” an official said.
Experts say Desa-Verinag-Dooru road would be safer than other routes to Doda.
“This road is one of the shortest possible routes to Kashmir valley and safe too with no danger zone of shooting stones or landslides,” says Advocate Syed Hanif Hashmi, a member of Bar Association and Chenab Valley Foundation.
A tunnel, he said, will make it an all-weather road and drastically reduce the number of accidents that have become routine in these districts.
This road traverses Doda district, touching most of the habitats including Baderwah, Thathri, Gundoo Balais which otherwise are connected with narrow precarious roads said Hashmi.
Almost every week, residents of Bhatta village in district Doda trek the Braribal mountain top along with their mules to reach Kapran in Kashmir valley for purchasing merchandise.