Jammu: The Governor administration has urged the Indian government to elevate the status of the historic Mughal Road to that of a national highway and approve the construction of an 8-kilometer tunnel to make it an all-weather road connecting Kashmir valley with Poonch and Rajouri districts of Jammu region.
An official spokesman said that Governor NN Vohra has written a letter to Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari and requested him to declare the Mughal Road as a National Highway and approve the construction of the Chattapani-Zaznar tunnel.
The Governor has highlighted that this Road has several avalanche-prone locations near Pir-Ki-Gali and that a considerable portion of it remains snow bound during winter, rendering it inoperative from late November to April-end. The Governor has noted that the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has already taken an excellent initiative and declared Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch (NH-144A), and Srinagar-Shopian-Qazigund (NH-444) roads as New National Highways. The declaration of Mughal Road as a National Highway and construction of the said tunnel would provide a reliable all–weather alternative route to link Jammu with Srinagar via the Rajouri-Shopian axis.
The Mughal Road was constructed in 2004 under Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP). The 84.1-km road through the Pir Panchal mountain range connects Shopian (in Kashmir Division) with Bafliaz (in Jammu division).
From the Poonch side the construction of this Road has resulted in reducing the distance to Srinagar by over 300 kilometers and also contributed to easing the heavy traffic on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway (NH-44).
The Mughal Road was the primary link to Kashmir during the Mughal era in India. Over the centuries, the road had been reduced to a mere walkway, which was used by herdsmen in summers to travel between Kashmir Valley and Rajouri. The PDP-Congress coalition between 2002 and 2008 sold it as a major confidence building measure for the people of Rajouri and Shopian.
Interestingly, observers say that Governor’s initiative to suggest development of the road into a national highway is yet another step to rob any prospective elected state governments in Jammu and Kashmir of “a possible CBM”.