Highway Hiccups: Cover Story 18 January, 2021 Issue.

Highway Hiccups

News Kashmir Exclusive
The travel along the 255-km so-called all-weather Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, which connects Kashmir with the rest of the country, has since long time  become a nightmarish and horrible  experience for people especially in the winter months despite constructions of tunnels .Pertinent to mention here, Notably, tunnels, such as the Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Tunnel and the Banihal Qazigund Road Tunnel have reduced the distance between Jammu and Srinagar (formerly 295 km) by about 40 km .The Banihal to Ramban sector is still proving to be uphill challenge with often closures in winter . The heavy snowfall at the start of this year has mean that in the month of January 2021 national highway has hardly remained open for traffic .
The closure of highway has given much difficulty to the commuters and drivers plying on this road. The collapse of bridge near Ramban caused big obstacle .Jammu-Srinagar National Highway shall remain closed due to sudden collapse of retaining wall of a bridge near Kela Morh, Ramban on January 10 at 6:20 pm. Repairing by concrete filling and settling of the concrete for making it motorable may take approximately 10 days as per project director NHAI,” the Traffic advisory said .Highway closure of this nature leads to inflation .The much long nature of closure of the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway has now started affecting the smooth delivery of supplies to the Valley. The markets are already witnessing inflation in form of sky-rocketing of prices especially that of basic food items and vegetables.
On average, every day, around 1,200 trucks and as many tankers, besides 1,000 vehicles ferrying passengers, ply on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. There are also over 500 vehicles of government forces on the road on a routine day. Nearly 7,000 vehicles cross the Banihal toll post on an average day.
Recently also , The drivers stranded along Srinagar—Jammu highway for the past four days on  rued lack of facilities alleging that the administration seems to have forgotten them.
The drivers  stuck along the highway following the damage to the bridge at Kela Morh in Ramban stated they are facing many difficulty.
Many are hoping that four lanning , and start of rail link between Kashmir to Jammu would start soon so that highway blockades would not hamper lives of people soon.
The work on the intervening 111 km section of Katra-Banihal is ongoing and is the most challenging portion due to its geology and extensive riverine system with deep gorges. Recently, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal asked the engineers working on the project to expedite the remaining portion on a mission mode.
For the moment although the closed highway is giving much troubled time to the people of Kashmir .