70 Years On, No Light At The End Of The Tunnel


SRINAGAR — The frequent closure of Jammu-Srinagar highway, the only road link connecting Kashmir with outside world, continues to pile woes on people of Kashmir Valley as the thoroughfare remained closed for 28 days this year hitherto.

There were large scale disruption in essential services due to frequent closure of the highway and people visiting outside for vocation and other important works continue to ensure endless miseries.  

The government tacitly admits that Mughal road should have been thrown open for traffic for being an all-weather route while as direct train services from Jammu to Srinagar should have been a reality by now.

Since January this year, the Srinagar-Jammu highway remained closed for the both way traffic for 28 times due to landslides and shooting stones at various vulnerable points like Panthal, Ramban and Ramsoo.

Ejaz Rasool, an engineering student at Kashmir University said that despite the passage of 70 years, all the previous regimes, National Conference, Congress, PDP and BJP failed to ensure an alternate measure to deal with frequent closure of the highway.

An elderly Abdur Razaq, a resident of Khanyar area said that every single day, highway is closed and the frequent closure of the road leaves an ordinary Kashmir in lurch. “Except the dry vegetables, people of Kashmir remain dependent on few selected vegetable produced from the Dal Lake.

But that can’t suffice the entire Kashmir population who also need cooking gas, kerosene, petrol, poultry and above all mutton.” Kashmiris are known as the voracious meat eaters and the non-availability of mutton and chicken make people crazy.

Ironically, there is no check on the black-marketing as prices of vegetables have gone skyrocketing while LPG and petrol are sold against high prices.  “After searching for LPG cylinder in Srinagar for hours, I finally got one at Karanagar against RS 1500, thrice the fixed price of the government,” said Imtiyaz Ahmed a resident of Abi Guzar.

The Mutton dealers complain that they don’t receive any supply given the road closure but in many places, “butchers were selling mutton at exorbitant prices—Rs 500 per kg against government rate of Rs 400.”  “I wonder when the road is closed, how the mutton shops have two sheep hanging for sale.

There is no check at all,” said Rafiqa, a government employee. “There is a big question mark as to why all the previous regimes sat on the proposal of addressing the highway mess issue. Perhaps there are political dividends and that’s why this issue.”

Divisional commissioner Kashmir Baseer Khan told a local news agency KNO that people are facing hardships due to frequent closure of Srinagar-Jammu highway. “But one can’t stop landslides and shooting stones.

“I believe Mughal road should have been fully functional long back, vulnerable areas where prone to shooting stones and landslides should have been dealt with by the concern departments and that the train services from Jammu to Srinagar should have been through,” he said. “Had these three things been done, there would have been no shortage or essentials in this hour of crisis.”


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