Work on other options
On Friday Jammu-Srinagar national highway witnessed yet another closure. The highway got blocked due to a landslide at Seri Ramban. Though Jammu and Kashmir is presently witnessing hot weather conditions and no rainfall activity has been recorded since the past two weeks now.
Despite dry weather conditions the highway has witnessed a closure that too at a crucial juncture when perishable fruits like strawberry and cherry are being transported to various locations across the country. Besides, the travelers too are commuting on this all important highway as they also feel that the road will not witness a closure during summer.
The closure of the higway has once again brough us to a point whwre we discuss other alternative options that are available for travelling to Jammu and vice versa. One such option is the Mughal road that people especially transporters have put their hope and trust in. But this road too has been witnesses to official apathy as no measures are being ensured so that the road could prove to be an alternative highway.
Interestingly, the government had few years back initiated a proposal to construct a tunnel on the historic Mughal Road and make it an all-weather route, but as of now the proposal has not seen any progress for the past ten years now.
The governments here have been raising the issue quite vehemently over the past ten years now, but still the union government has not been accepting the proposal and allocating funds for it.
From the National Conference-Congress government to the PDP-BJP dispensation in Jammu and Kashmir, the successive regimes had made repeated requests to the government of India to fund construction of the tunnel.
Now the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir is under the direct control of the Union government but the proposal has still not seen the light of the day as no progress has been reported on that front.
The historic Mughal Road connects Kashmir with Poonch via southern Shopian district and if the proposed tunnel is constructed, the road could prove to be an alternative to the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
Notably, a proposal for preparation of a detailed project report (DPR) of the tunnel was submitted to the Planning Commission of India, which was replaced by NITI Aaoyg in 2014. However, nothing concrete has come out of it so far.
Following repeated pleas of the governments, the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) in 2017 sought proposals from eligible consultants for preparation of the DPR and work out pre-consultation activities for the tunnel.
But, the NHIDCL suddenly put the tendering process on hold, arguing that the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has not entrusted the project to it. Adding insult to the injury is the fact that the union government is not approving the proposal of double lanning of the all important Mughal road that could bring in the much needed relief for the people here.
The need for creating alternate connective between Jammu and Srinagar is growing with every passing day and the government should rise to the occasion.