No progress on 14-year-old Mughal road tunnel project

No progress on 14-year-old Mughal road tunnel project

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 havemade this highway, first used by Mughal kings, an alternative to Srinagar-JammuNational Highway, currently Kashmir's only all-weather road link to the rest ofthe country.

Since Mughal road remains closed for about five months andSrinagar-Jammu highway intermittently during winters, businesses suffer hugelosses in the Valley.

An official said a preliminary project report (PPR) for thetunnel, which would reduce the distance between Kashmir and Jammu by at least22km, had already been sent to the Union government. But PPR is the onlyconcrete 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 closedfrom December to April every year.

Another official who is dealing with this project on behalfof the state government said, "The state government has been exhorting theministry of road transport and highways to declare Mughal road as a NationalHighway and to construct the tunnel."

He said the state has been assured that after assessing thePPR, work on the DPR will be started by the executing agency soon.

The road was historically used by Mughal emperors to traveland conquer Kashmir during the sixteenth century. It was the route used byAkbar to conquer Kashmir in 1586, and his son Emperor Jahangir died whilereturning from Kashmir on this road near Rajouri.

The new road was proposed in the 1950s with the intention ofimproving the economy of Kashmir. Then Chief Minister Sheikh Abdullah had takenup this project in 1979 and named it "Mughal Road" but aftermilitancy erupted, no progress could be made. The Bafliaz bridge on the roadwas blown up by militants.The construction of the prestigious project wasstarted in October 2005. It was supposed to be completed by March 2007 at anestimated cost of Rs 255 crore.

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