Roads are lifelines

On April 2nd, we saw the Chenani – Nashri tunnel in Udhampur District being inaugurated. The tunnel will ensure that the distance between the twin capitals Jammu and Srinagar is reduced by over 40 Kilometres. Besides, it will reduce the travel time by almost three hours.

 The inauguration of this tunnel has generated hopes among the masses especially from the region of Kargil and Leh who are left on the mercy of nature owing to the very bad road connectivity to the area.

 One wonders as to why the federal government is taking so long to initiate creation of a viable and long lasting road network in the state so that the pace of development also grows in leaps and bounds.

We are given to understand that the Union Ministry for Roads and Surface Transport has in principle accepted to take up road connectivity including tunnelling work in the state of Jammu and Kashmir on a massive scale.

If reports are to be believed the Union Ministry plans to incur an expenditure to the tune of 55,000 crore rupees to build a massive and vibrant road network in the state.

It seems that some good sense has prevailed on the babus in the Ministry as they have ultimately put their finger on the precise ailment of underdevelopment in the state.

The centre needs to understand what has gone wrong in J&K over the past six decades. In that sense, digging any number of tunnels at strategic spots in the Pir Panchal ranges not only will reduce travel time and journey hassles but will also become catalyst to close interaction among the people in all the three regions of the State. Interestingly, the reports also mention that the Union Surface Ministry is contemplating a parallel National Highway between New Delhi and Katra via Amritsar in Punjab which will reduce the present 12 hour long journey to just five and half hours. The project has been approved and all requisite formalities completed except land acquisition which according to the officials is underway.

Road is the key component of any infrastructure. With a road network project including tunnels of very strategic importance either in the Pir Panchal ranges or the Shivalak ranges are of vital importance. Road network will break centuries old isolation of the State and its remote areas.

It will establish round the year link and will entirely change the roadmap of State’s economic pursuits. Extensive road network will provide employment to a large number of youth. The student community of the State will also derive much benefit out of it.

But more than anything else, it is the tourist industry that will receive boost. And if we presume that tourist industry is emerging as the mainstay of economy, then no news is more heartening than that of a massive road network plan that will involve an expenditure of 55,000 crore rupees.

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