Asia’s Longest Tunnel Fails To Make Kashmir Highway Fully Operational

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Srinagar: Despite major improvement in the weather and opening of Asia’s longest road tunnel, only one-way traffic will continue on the national highway, connecting the Kashmir valley with the rest of the world.

However, historic Mughal road, seen as alternative to Kashmir highway, will reopen very shortly while the national highway linking Ladakh region with Kashmir remained closed since December last year.

Meanwhile, chopper service was introduced for cut off border town of Gurez in north Kashmir.

Traffic on the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu national highway was disrupted frequently after first major snowfall on January 6 this year, badly affecting import of essentials and travelers, including tourists.

All vehicles, including trucks and oil tankers besides those carrying passengers, will ply from Srinagar to Jammu today, a traffic police official told UNI.

However, no vehicle will be allowed from opposite direction, he said, adding only one-way traffic will continue on the highway to avoid any traffic jam or accident.

People associated with tourist industry said allowing only one-way traffic on the highway has a major impact on tourists visiting valley. “We fail to understand why the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), responsible for the maintenance of the highway, has failed to repair the road to allow two-way traffic,” a hotel owner Abdul Majid asked.

Now that the weather is very good therefore there should be no problem in removing all hurdles to restore normal traffic movement on the highway, he said.

 “What was the use of opening Asia’s longest road tunnel when only one-way traffic is allowed on the highway, the only road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country,” he asked.

The truckers and oil tanker drivers also alleged that it takes them three days to drive between Jammu to Srinagar and back, because of one-way traffic.

Allowing only one-way traffic will also badly hit the Amarnath pilgrims, they said.

The BRO has meanwhile already pressed into service sophisticated machines and men to repair the road portion damaged by landslides and shooting stones, triggered by snow and rain since January this year.

Meanwhile, District Development Commissioner (DDC) Shopian, Manzoor Ahmad Qadri, who visited the Mughal road yesterday, said that the historic road will be open for vehicular traffic soon as snow clearance operations have been completed.

He said this while inspecting the restoration works on the 84-km- long road which connects Shopian in Kashmir Valley with Poonch in Jammu region.

The DDC said that only minor rock slides at Zaznar and Lal Ghulam Birdge are to be cleared and road will be thrown open for public after ascertaining the safety of commuters.

The road was closed in January this year after heavy snowfall.

Meanwhile, snow clearance operation was going on war footing on the national highway, connecting Ladakh region with Kashmir valley. Snow clearance operation is going on at Zojila pass and other areas, official sources said adding traffic on the highway will be resumed very soon.

Dozens of far flung and remote areas, including near the Line of Control (LoC) in north Kashmir remained cut off with their respective district headquarters though authorities have already pressed into service machines to clear the accumulated snow on roads.

The authorities have now started chopper service from Srinagar to the border town of Gurez, which is surrounded by Pakistan Controlled Kashmir (PcK) from three sides. Gurez valley remained cut off from its district headquarter Bandipora since January this year due to snow. The helicopter service was inaugurated by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti yesterday.

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