Kashmir’s highways remain unsafe

Kashmir’s highways are one of the most precarious in the country. You travel through precipitous ridges: a small slip, your vehicles could fall into deep gorges. The width and condition of the highway from Jammu to Srinagar are so poor that you often have to move through the outer edges of the highway which may not be stable.

Meandering highway from Jammu to Kashmir.                    Photo:  Roy Mathew

Though highways are being widened and developed from Jammu to Punjab, much of the highway from Jammu to Sri Nagar remain in bad shape despite heavy traffic. The Border Roads Organisation is in charge of the development of the highway. However, it has so far failed to develop safe roads, which is challenging task. The highway passes through mountain slopes and slopes below and above are prone to landslips at many places. There are also areas where boulders would roll down on to the road. The situation poses a major technological challenge which is yet to be addressed.

Army trucks

A large number of army trucks and vehicles move up and down the highway every day, often causing congestion.                                                               Photo: Roy Mathew

Road accidents continue to be on the high side in the State. During three years from 2009 to 2011, as many as 3,288 persons were killed and 27,165 injured in 18,786 accidents in the State. The number of accidents was on the increase during these years. With militancy on the wane, it is said that the more persons are now getting killed in road accidents than in terrorist attacks and army operations.

The Centre recently sanctioned Rs. 1248 crore to Jammu and Kashmir for improving connectivity to its villages. The State government has plans to develop the historical Mughal road for ecotourism purposes. These are ecologically sensitive areas with rich flora and fauna and water bodies. The road development has to keep in view the conservation of wildlife habitats and ecosystems.

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