Editorial: Alternate highways

Srinagar: It was after four days of closure that the Jammu-Srinagar national Highway was opened partially for traffic and vehicles stranded on the highway were allowed to proceed towards Srinagar. The traffic authorities allowed only passenger vehicles to pass and have asked the vehicles carrying supplies to Srinagar and other parts to stay put till further orders.

The Jammu-Srinagar National highway is always in news during winter and those days whenever any sort of downpour happens here. The highway not only witnesses landslides but shooting stones also hamper any movement on the highway.

The closure of highway for days together is an annual feature with most of the days of winter season getting lost to clear the highway to make it ready for traffic. The closure not only cuts off the Valley from the rest of the world but it also leads to curtailments of supplies to the Valley which is almost dependent on all its needs on the supplies coming from Punjab, Delhi and other parts of the state.

Even today, the Valley has been facing acute shortage of fresh vegetable and other supplies as the highway is witnessing a closure. Besides, the stranded passengers too have to go through lot of troubles to arrange for their boarding and lodgings at Jammu and other places costing them a fortune.

All this has been over the years making us realize that Jammu and Kashmir needs an alternate highway other than the NH1 so that the issue of all weather connectivity is settled once and for all. Though some breakthrough was managed some years back as the Union Surface Transport Ministry had intimated the state government about declaring Mughal road as an alternate national highway between Jammu and Valley.

Though a formal request was made by the then Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed to declare Mughal Road as an alternate national highway until the completion of four lanning of the existing Jammu-Srinagar national highway, no headway was made in making Mughal road a reliable alternative.

The Mughal road could have been a viable alternative but this alternative needs time and attention both from the state as well as the state government. The road which could have been a game changer needs some funds which it has been craving for many years now.

The Natipora-Nowgam-Newa road which connects Srinagar and Budgam with South Kashmir districts of Anantnag, Pulwama, Shopian and Kulgam besides leading to Poonch and Rajouri districts in the Jammu division is witnessing official apathy.

Over the years this road has been used as an alternate highway to the existing Srinagar-Jammu national highway. Despite the importance, the Roads and Buildings (R & B) department is yet to make the road fit so that it could sustain the pressure of the traffic.

The entire stretch of road is very narrow and no step whatsoever has been taken to widen it. Thousands of vehicles including trucks pass on the road and as such the pressure of traffic is enormous. Since this road has assumed the importance of a highway it is more than important that widening process is taken up immediately.

The stretch of the road from Natipora onwards is in a dilapidated condition and the condition is worse from Nowgam bye-pass onwards. Ditches, pot-holes and cracks have come up on the road and the repairs are awaited. The narrowness of the road makes it more vulnerable to accidents, but the department continues to be unmoved.

The case is no different once one crosses Shopian and takes the Mughal road towards Rajouri and Poonch. The road is vulnerable to snow avalanches and landslides which force the closure of the road even after a mild drizzle or snowfall. 


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