Editorial: Ensuring connectivity 

Srinagar: Ladakh region, though the largest region of the state is all set to experience all weather connectivity with Kashmir and other parts. The dream to remain connected to the outside world will be fulfilled by the construction of a bi-directional longest tunnel at an estimated cost of Rs 6,089 crore that will connect Drass with Sonamarg bypassing the treacherous Zojila pass. The project which had been pending for the last two decades has given something for the people of the region to cheer about.

The tunnel after completion will reduce the time taken to travel across the strategic Zojila pass on the national highway connecting Kashmir with Kargil and Leh. The distance to cover the tunnel will be done in just 15 minutes-easing out the journey for the passengers as well as truckers who are duty bound to provide supplies to the entire Kargil and Leh region.

The 14.15 km tunnel will reduce the travel time on Zojila pass from an estimated 3 hours to 15 minutes besides providing an all-weather road to strategically important Kargil, the epi-centre of 1999 skirmishes between India and Pakistani troops.

With the creation of the tunnel, supplies can be ensured for troops as well as civilians who have to face harsh winters as the mercury plummets even up to minus 40 degrees below zero.

Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet on the Srinagar-Kargil-Leh National Highway which remains closed during winters (December to April) due to heavy snowfall and avalanches cutting off Leh-Ladakh region from Kashmir.

The news seems pleasing, but there are various other regions of the state that too need immediate attention. These regions may not be so thickly populated as Kargil and Leh but the fact that these regions are important strategically cannot be ignored. 

One such region is north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. The district lies between the snow clad mountainous regions of Pir Panjal and Shamsbari mountain ranges. It shares a long border with Pakistan administered Kashmir in its north and western side.

Though full of natural picturesque, scenic beauty it is endowed with rich dense magical forests, unique wild life, numerous un-spoilt meadows, snowy landscapes, gushing waters, glittering springs, numerous perennial  tributaries flowing from magnificent mountains,  hospitable locals and other countless attractions make this frontier district truly unique.  But the region is one of the most backward regions of the state owing to the fact that many areas like Gurez, Karnah, Tangdhar, Teetwal and others remain cut off during winters owing to bad weather conditions.

The people living in these areas have to walk miles even to get basic medical facilities. There are occasions when dead bodies have to be carried by people for several days even to give them a descent burial.

However, despite these miseries the region has been witnessing neglect and apathy at all levels. We have no issues if Leh or any other region of the state gets visible on the developmental front. But at the same time, the governments-both Central and the state need to think of areas which have been demanding attention for long now.

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