News Kashmir Desk
Jammu-Srinagar highway has become pragmatically a highway of death on account of frequent traffic accidents, and this coupled with frequent closures of this highway due to rains and snowfalls is adding to miseries of commuters plying on this road .
Heart-rending accidents have become a norm on highway . On February 7, a vehicle on way to Jammu plunged into a 500ft gorge and landed at the banks of Bishlari nallah near Digdol – 12 kms from Ramban – resulting into on spot death of four commuters . To add to woes , few days back, highway opened after a four-day blockade caused by heavy snowfall
Pertinently, the highway is the only road linking the Kashmir valley with the rest of the country and prices of essential commodities in Kashmir inflate once this road link gets closed. It is a known fact that the closure of the highway always results in scarcity of essentials for the landlocked Kashmir Valley.
Manzoor Ahmad, a driver stated – “The Jammu – Srinagar National Highway is since long demanding attention as it has wrecked havoc and is by all means a death trap. Steps should be taken to improve the status of this all important route so that frequent blockades do not occur and precious lives are saved. Alternatives should also be thought out and a mechanism devised to sort out this problem of frequent deadly traffic accidents and closures of highway.”
What had complicated matters further this year especially was that recently, when road was closed for several days the airfares skyrocketed. A check of airfares of different airlines from Srinagar to Delhi suggested that the spot fare was hovering around Rs 16,000 to RS 1800 . Normal fare between the two destinations is around Rs 3500 to 5,000.
On an optimistic note though, after seven years of work, the Chenani-Nashri tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu highway is finally heading towards its completion, with testing and other construction works likely to finish by the end of this month. This tunnel will not only cut the distance but reduces travel through risky portions. Although now voices are calling to revamp Banihal to Ramban road so that real headway is achieved.
Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir government is trying to use the state-of-the-art 11 km-long railway tunnel between Banihal and Qazigund for vehicular traffic, in case the stretch of the Jammu-Srinagar highway between the two towns needs to be closed. This part of the highway is the most prone to landslides and shooting stones during bad weather.
Considering the prevalent ground realities Jammu- Srinagar Highway is still highway of death and this calls from brainstorming effective steps by concerned authorities in this regard.