Mughal road needs focused attention
The Administrative Council which met here on Thursday under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, has approved up-gradation, improvement and resurfacing of Mughal road at an estimated cost of Rs 47.41 Crore for a total length of 84.11 Kms. An official spokesman said that the decision was aimed at proper upkeep /maintenance of the road to check avoidable loss of human life in various road accidents and ensuring smooth vehicular movement. It is heartening to note that Lt Governor’s administration is focusing on the upkeep of this vital route which if made an all-weather road could be an alternate link to the Kashmir Valley with rest of the country. However, to make it so, the governments, both in the UT and the Centre need to do much more. Present status of this road is that it remains open for traffic only for a few months of summer and come winter, it gets closed. The road, which connects Kashmir Valley with Poonch, through Shopian district was opened for traffic in 2009.
It may be mentioned here that in late 2019, the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited had engaged a Spanish Consultancy firm and an Indian private consultant company to prepare a report for the construction of a tunnel on Mughal road. This road witnesses heavy snowfall during winters particularly at Pir ki Gali. It is here, the government was planning to lay down a tunnel so that traffic could move on the road during winters too thus reducing the pressure on Srinagar Jammu highway, which frequently remains shut during winter season. It was given to understand that the companies were preparing a detailed project report to estimate the approximate cost of the project and that once it was done, the work on the project could be started.
While one would really appreciate the Lt Governor administration for focusing on the Mughal road, the administration needs to seriously explore the possibility of making this road an all weather road. To begin with, the administration need to examine what happened to the DPR that was to be submitted to National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited on priority basis. It goes without saying that unless the tunnel at Pir Ki Gali is made, the road can in no way be an all weather road.
The Administrative Council, in its meeting, has genuinely observed that Mughal road being the alternate link between Jammu and Srinagar has gained significance by reducing the distance and travel time between Poonch- Rajouri districts of Jammu province and Srinagar and other districts of Kashmir province and has also brought to the fore the vast tourism potential of Shopian-Dubjan-Pir Ki Gali-Buflaiz-Surankote-Poonch-Rajouri sector. Besides the twin districts of Poonch and Rajouri through Mughal road link have received access to medical and educational facilities available in Kashmir valley. These observations necessitate that more focus is to be given to this road and all steps are taken to make it an all weather road. As has been suggested in these columns, umpteenth times, better surface communication is the key to the development. Places that have better road connectivity have much better chances of progress and prosperity. So, one would expect the Lt Governor administration to prioritize the Mughal road.