PAMPORE: Much to the dismay and discomfort of commuters as well as residents, the vital Pampore-Panthachowk stretch of the old alignment of Srinagar-Jammu highway is in a pathetic condition.
The condition of the six-kilometer stretch has gone from bad to worse after the newly constructed NH-44 was thrown open for the traffic.
The old stretch, however, is still the main access to Srinagar city, used by ambulances and local travellers, given the fact that the NH-44 is a comparatively longer route to the capital city.
As the NH-44 was being constructed by a Hyderabad based construction company, RAMKY, the maintenance of the existing alignment was also to be carried out by them.
“They mostly did patch works on the highway, which was not enough but still kept the road in a better condition,” Gulzar Ahmad, a cab driver from Anantnag told Kashmir Reader. Gulzar plies the road on a daily basis.
He said that there has been no maintenance on the road ever since the NH-44 was thrown open for the traffic-and it has been more than six months.
“Right now the commute from Anantnag to Pampore, which is around 35 kilometres, takes less time than the commute from Pampore to Srinagar, which is only 13 kilometers, all because of the Pampore-Panthachowk stretch,” a daily commuter, Imtiyaz Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader.
The road stretch is full of potholes, which remain filled with water.
The people living around the road lament that the road has become a nightmare for them.
“Either the potholes are filled with water or dust -when dry. Our children cannot even venture out of the houses,” said Mushtaq Ahmad, a resident of Panthachowk area.
Acknowledging the pathetic condition of the road, authorities maintain that the road will be blacktopped soon.
“The National Highway’s Authority of India (NHAI) had to pay for the macadamization of these old stretches. They released money for the Bijbehara-Khannabal stretch which has now been macadamized,” said Muhammad Sameed, Private Secretary to Commissioner Secretary, Roads and Buildings Department (R&B).
He said that the funds for the Pampore-Panthachowk stretch are expected to be released soon as well.
“It will be blacktopped soon after the money is released,” Ahmad told Kashmir Reader.