70-yrs on, Sgr-Jmu highway still vulnerable

70-yrs on, Sgr-Jmu highway still vulnerable
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Afaq Bhat

Srinagar, Feb 16: One day of rainfall and snow led to the closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway, only surface link connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, for four days.
The 300-km highway was thrown open for traffic on late Thursday evening to clear the stranded vehicles. “There were more than 3000 vehicles stranded on the highway. These were allowed to move towards their respective destinations after the highway was cleared,” said a source.
An expert while talking to Precious Kashmir said, “The four lanning of Srinagar-Jammu highway is going on in a haphazard manner. If it rains continuously for a few days highway can get blocked for weeks together.”
“The stretch between Banihal and Ramban is vulnerable to landslides and shooting stones. This highway used to get blocked in 1947 and even after 70-years situation is no different,” he added.
The expert said that to make the Srinagar-Jammu highway four lane is a wonderful initiative but before taking up the four lanning of the highway the government should have had an alternate plan ready. “Unfortunately we don’t have an alternate highway. The Government of India and successive regimes in Jammu and Kashmir have not been able to provide Kashmir with an alternate highway,” he said.
An official said the contractor companies involved in expansion of the highway seem to have “misread” the terrain. “Had they understood the topography and terrain well they would have not touched the vulnerable spots without having a plan-B at place. In absence of plan-B they don’t know how to prevent the landslides from recurring again and again,” the official added.
He said the Mughal Road is in limbo for the past so many years. “Every year announcements are made that this alternate highway would be thrown open for traffic and it would be turned into all-weather road but the fact is that nothing has been done on the ground. These announcements have just remained confined to papers only. Despite Mughal Road being ready not much effort has been put t keep it open during the winter months.”
The official said that if the government wants to ensure that 4-laning of Srinagar-Jammu highway is carried out at the fast pace and without any hindrances then it should pay some attention towards the Mughal Road so that at least traffic plies one-way on the road. “Four-laning of the Jammu-Srinagar without having an alternate road at place can lead to Kashmir getting disconnected from outside world for months together and it can lead to catastrophe like situation,” the official added.