RAMBAN (J&K): Srinagar-Jammu highway is the only road-link between the Kashmir Valley and the country’s plains which remains officially ‘open’ for vehicular traffic throughout the year. Yet the travel along the 270-km so-called all-weather road which also connects Jammu and Kashmir’s twin capitals of Srinagar and Jammu has increasingly become a nightmarish experience for people.
The road remains shut for days and even weeks due to landslides, soil-erosion, frost and other weather related occurrences, not only in winter but also in other seasons.
Even if the road is officially through, it’s dilapidated condition, bottlenecks, shooting of stones at places and heavy traffic movement cause frequent and often severe gridlocks. Both passenger and goods vehicles remain stranded along the highway for days. The road has also become a deathtrap as a fairly large number of travelers do get killed routinely in mishaps.
The frequent closure of the road has also resulted into huge economic losses in the Valley where scarcity of essential commodities including food-grains and gasoline is a usual phenomenon particularly in winter.
Also, airfares touch skies particularly on Srinagar-Jammu and Srinagar-Delhi routes which see a heavy rush of passengers amid frequent and prolonged closures of the highway.
However, the Kashmiri traders allege that the trucks carrying food items, fuel and sheep for the Valley are stopped at various places en-route also on various pretext other than usual natural or manmade disruptions along the highway “to deliberately add to the economic woes of the Valleyites”.
“The road is proving a death-knell for the Valley’s traders who suffered a loss of `5 crore during past couple of weeks,” said Aijaz Shahdar, vice-president of Kashmir Economic Alliance, an amalgam of various trade organisations....