Baramulla: The upgradation and strengthening of the 42.80 km Baramulla-Gulmarg road by the National Highway Infrastructural Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) is seen as a radical attempt of the state administration to improve the tourism potential of the Kandi area of Baramulla district.
However, the residents of the area had urged the administration to develop the road as a two-lane one besides ensuring provision for restaurants and parks at different spots along the upgraded road.
The existing Baramulla-Gulmarg road was taken over by the National Highway Authority 1-A in 2018.
The road from Nanak Bhawan Baramulla to Gulmarg is 42.80 km long and passes through picturesque Ushkara, Gohan, Chandoosa, Kalantra, Nambalnar and Baba Reshi.
“The upgradation and strengthening of the road will boost tourism in the area. It is a serious attempt of the administration to uplift the area,” said Firdous Ahmad of Kalantra Baramulla.
The Baramulla-Gulmarg road is mainly used by the locals of north Kashmir.
The road shortens the Baramulla-Gulmarg distance by several kilometres compared to the Baramulla-Gulmarg road via Narbal and Tangmarg.
The Kandi belt of Baramulla district has a huge potential for tourism-related activities and some spots in the area like Shranz waterfall are already famous among the visitors.
The area is rich in exquisite landscapes surrounded by mountains.
Though enthusiastic about the project, the locals are concerned over the road dimensions on widening of the road.
“The road is being only upgraded and strengthened. The existing road is not a two-lane road which means authorities will at the most macadamise it and improve its quality which will not achieve the desirable results,” said Muhammad Ashraf of Gohan Baramulla.
He said that the project could have been made much more attractive and meaningful by acquiring more land so that the upgraded road could be developed as a two-lane road.
“As per the project details, the macadamised road will be 5.5 metre, which means it won’t be a two-lane road and won’t yield the desired objective,” Ashraf said.
Praising the authorities for conceiving the project, the residents of Baramulla urged them to re-visit the project and develop the road as a two-lane road.
“The Baramulla town is a cup shaped town with less area compared to other towns of Kashmir. If the Baramulla-Gulmarg road via Kandi Baramulla is developed as a two-lane road, it will pave the way for construction of new residential colonies. A better road facility in the area will boost tourism and also make the area suitable for development of new residential colonies which in turn will stretch the Baramulla town limits,” said Muhammad Shafiq, a member of civil society in Baramulla.
An official of the NHIDCL said that the work on the project was in progress.
He said that the concern shown by the locals could be addressed by the administration.
“We are upgrading and strengthening the existing road. If the local administration can acquire more land for the project, the entire road stretch can be developed as a two-lane road,” he said.
Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Bhupinder Kumar said that the road would be developed as a two-lane road in future but, as of now, the road was being upgraded as 5.5 metres wide. “The demand of the locals is genuine and we will definitely develop it as two-lane in the near future,” he said.