Despite Govt’s serious efforts, Jammu-Srinagar National highway remains hazardous for travelers during rainy season


Ishtiyaq Kar

Srinagar, Apr 23 : Despite the government’s earnest endeavors to transform the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway into an all-weather road, it continues to pose hazards for travelers, especially during the rainy season.

Serving as a vital link between the captivating Kashmir Valley and the rest of India, the highway has witnessed substantial improvements over the years, with initiatives aimed at modernization and widening to ensure year-round accessibility.
However, despite these efforts, travelers encounter significant challenges, transforming their journey into a perilous ordeal, highlighting the persistent dangers along this crucial lifeline.

The expansion and road-widening efforts have unintentionally introduced new risks for travelers. Loose soil, a byproduct of construction, combined with the rugged landscape, has resulted in a surge of falling boulders, landslides, and shooting stones along various sections of the route, particularly exacerbated during the rainy season.

“Since March of this year, the highway has experienced numerous closures due to landslides or shooting stones triggered by rain. While the overall improvement of the highway has reduced travel time to reach destinations, the rainy season poses significant dangers for travelers on the Jammu-Srinagar Highway,” one local cab driver, who frequently travels from Srinagar to Jammu, emphasized the perilous conditions caused by shooting stones and landslides along many stretches of the route.
Essential supplies, including grains, pulses, vegetables, mutton, poultry, petroleum products, and medicines, are transported through this route to the landlocked Valley.

Before the construction of the tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal, commuters relied on the Jawahar Tunnel, which often faced closures due to heavy snowfall in its vicinity.

However, since the inauguration of the new tunnel, this issue has been resolved. Nonetheless, challenges persist during rainy weather, especially along the Banihal to Ramban stretch where ongoing construction work hampers smooth travel, said a traveler.

Rain often triggers landslides, in several areas rendering the road impassable, while sunny days bring the peril of shooting stones, endangering the lives of travelers.

News agency KNS reported that the most treacherous section is from Ramsoo to Banihal, where travelers face a barrage of challenges including landslides, shooting stones, slippery conditions, and gushing seasonal streams, making every inch of the journey perilous.

The Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, designated NH-44, has historical significance as the primary conduit for transportation of goods, people, and military supplies to and from the Kashmir Valley.

Over the years, various infrastructure projects have been initiated to improve its reliability and accessibility.
Projects like road widening, tunnel construction, and snow and avalanche protection measures have been undertaken to make the highway an all-weather lifeline.

Despite these endeavors, the highway continues to face persistent challenges, especially during the rainy season, necessitating frequent maintenance and repair work to keep it operational.

In recent years, significant progress has been made in the development of Jammu and Kashmir’s infrastructure. The ongoing four-laning project involves the construction of tunnels, bridges, and flyovers, aimed at enhancing connectivity and reducing travel time.

Projects like the Ram Ban Viaduct, spanning 1.08 kilometers, and several tunnels in the rough patches have been instrumental in enhancing transportation connectivity in the region.

Additionally, the construction of significant tunnels, such as the one between Qazigund and Banihal, has substantially reduced travel distances and enhanced overall connectivity.

Government officials have confirmed ongoing efforts to enhance travel between Jammu and Srinagar while prioritizing traveler safety.

“These projects are designed to decrease travel time, bolster connectivity, and stimulate economic growth in the region. The completion of new tunnels and road widening initiatives has not only expedited travel but has also catalyzed economic opportunities, resulting in heightened tourism and trade. The concerned agencies are diligently working to ensure the safety of all stretches of the highway. The government’s steadfast commitment to improving road infrastructure has markedly elevated the region’s overall quality of life by enhancing connectivity and accessibility,” said the officials.

Continued investments and maintenance are essential to ensure the highway remains open and operational, serving as a beacon of progress for the region in the years to come.(KNS)


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