Valley turmoil, landslides take toll on Mughal Road

October 12th, 2010 - 4:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Jammu, Oct 12 (IANS) The Mughal Road, connecting Kashmir and the hilly parts of Jammu region, was finally expected to open for one-way traffic this month. But officials now say it will not be ready before 2012 as work has been hampered by landslides and turmoil in the Valley.

“Now it is not possible because the road is not traffic worthy for even jeeps due to massive landslides and also shortage of labour. Most migrant labourers working on the project have fled because of trouble in the Valley,” a senior officer connected with the work on the road, told IANS.

The road was to open in June this year, but work got delayed because of turmoil in the Valley - which has seen clashes between stone-pelting protestors and security forces in the last four months, leading to at least 109 deaths.

A new deadline was fixed for October 2010. Now even that will not be met.

“In no case is it possible to complete the work before October 2012,” the officer said.

The 84-km road takes off from Shopian in the Valley, 50 km south of Srinagar, and lands at Bafliaz in Poonch district of Jammu region, 200 km from Jammu.

It was essentially meant to connect the hilly parts of Rajouri and Poonch with the Valley, thus cutting distance and time of travel for people on the two sides of the Pir Panchal range of Himalayas.

Otherwise, people in Rajouri and Poonch and the Valley have to travel to Jammu first before reaching their destination on either side.

The distance between Srinagar and Jammu is 294 km, while Jammu is at a distance of 240 km from Poonch.

The total cost, which was earlier close to Rs.250 crore in the 1980s, has now risen to Rs.692 crore, according to the officer. He feared it might rise further by Rs.100 crore or so, depending on the time the work takes.

The first priority before the engineers is to clear the road of landslides and reconstruct the damaged portions and then start work on the widening to make it a two-lane road.

Work on the construction of the road was started in 1980 by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, grandfather of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, as he wanted to connect the two parts of the state and provide an alternative to the Jammu-Srinagar highway.

It is named Mughal Road because Mughal emperors used to take this route to travel to the Valley.

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