In 2005, the Government of India approved construction of a tunnel on the Mughal road to make it an all-weather highway. There has been no progress since.
The 7-km tunnel between Zaznar and Chathapani would have made this highway, first used by Mughal kings, an alternative to Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, currently Kashmir’s only all-weather road link to the rest of the country.
Since Mughal road remains closed for about five months and Srinagar-Jammu highway intermittently during winters, businesses suffer huge losses in the Valley.
An official said a preliminary project report (PPR) for the tunnel, which would reduce the distance between Kashmir and Jammu by at least 22km, had already been sent to the Union government. But PPR is the only concrete thing to have happened on this project.
Mughal Road between Bafliaz, a town in the Poonch district, to Shopian district passes through Pir Panchal mountain range.
Due to heavy snowfall, the 84-km Mughal Road remains closed from December to April every year.
Another official who is dealing with this project on behalf of the state government said, “The state government has been exhorting the ministry of road transport and highways to declare Mughal road as a National Highway and to construct the tunnel.”
He said the state has been assured that after assessing the PPR, work on the DPR will be started by the executing agency soon.
The road was historically used by Mughal emperors to travel and conquer Kashmir during the sixteenth century. It was the route used by Akbar to conquer Kashmir in 1586, and his son Emperor Jahangir died while returning from Kashmir on this road near Rajouri.
The new road was proposed in the 1950s with the intention of improving the economy of Kashmir. Then Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah had taken up this project in 1979 and named it “Mughal Road” but after militancy erupted, no progress could be made. The Bafliaz bridge on the road was blown up by militants. The construction of the prestigious project was started in October 2005. It was supposed to be completed by March 2007 at an estimated cost of Rs 255 crore.