Editorial | Finally some seriousness

It seems that finally the government has become serious about addressing the grave problem of frequent closure of Srinagar- Jammu highway. To deal with highway landslides that is one of the significant factors for frequent blocking of the highway it had appointed a panel of high-level experts to look into the problem and suggested remedial measures. The team of experts besides questioning cutting work, which has been triggering frequent landslides and rockslides it has proposed a slew of measures that help in reducing the frequency of mudslides and rock shootings on the highway. The panel that has mainly focussed landslide vulnerable 36 kilometres long Ramban–Banihal stretch, has given its preliminary report. It is expected to provide a detailed proposal for preventing landslides in this eco-fragile zone. For past seventy years, the only highway that connects Kashmir to rest of the country has not come up as an all-weather road; this has been one of the biggest impediments in the growth and development of Kashmir is a harsh reality. Kashmir valley, that is ideally suited for precision engineering, manufacturing of scientific equipment and other advanced technological units because of non-dependability of the highway has failed to come up on industrial map of the country.

That the recurrent blocking of this road for days and weeks after a shower or snowfall every year takes a toll of the state economy is an admitted fact. According to most conservative estimates, between January and February of this year, the state economy suffered a loss of 3, 325 Crores, which is about 95 crores a day. While calling upon the government for the execution of the recommendations by the high-powered panel in letter and spirit, which are likely to reduce the highway blues to an extent, it also needs to work on the alternative roads. The alternative routes would to a large extent reduce pressure on the the highway. Moreover, these alternative routes could also serve as around the year roads. The construction of historical Moghul Road, which has been a dream come true could be the biggest boon once the tunnel on this road between Zaznar and Chattapani becomes a reality. It is almost a year and a half when the ministry of road transport and highways invited tenders for the construction of this tunnel. The state government needs to take up the matter with the Union government and impress upon them for starting work on this vital tunnel.