The shortest and perhaps also the safest road which the Mughal emperors would take on their annual sojourn in Kashmir was the one that leads from Rajouri to Shopian on either side of Pir Panchal. This came to be known as Mughal Road. So many stories are connected with the Mughal army and royalty marching along this road to reach Kashmir. It is a compulsion with our State to construct the Mughal Road as all weather road, open all the 12 months of the year. The road crosses the mountain at Pir ki Gali above 12,000 feet from sea level. Since both sides of the passes are covered with snow for 4-5 months in a year, the only way of keeping it open round the year is to construct a tunnel estimated to be 8.8 kilometer in length. The contract for survey of the tunnel has been given to an Australian Firm which could not complete the task of survey within the stimulated time owing to turmoil in the valley and security matters. However, it is believed that the firm will resume the survey and submit the report by June this year.
The importance of Mughal Road as an alternative to the existing highway needs no description. This road is not prone to frequent landslides as the existing highway is. It is shorter than the existing road and commands scenic beauty of great charm. It has the potential of becoming much liked road by the tourists and with the passage of time, it will become the most frequented and used road by travelers to and from Kashmir. Construction of the road is entrusted to Border Road Organization and the Union Ministry of Surface Transport has committed to bear the cost up to 2000 crore rupees on this project. However, we learn that this project is also getting handicapped for lack of funding at proper time. Also some patches of the road are still hanging fire owing to dispute about acquisition. In short, funding and timely acquisition of land are the main causes of delay in the completion of this strategic road. Not only is the work between Srinagar and Jammu via Rajouri going on at snail’s pace, the work on double lanning of the part of Mughal Road by Border Roads Organization between Rajouri-Thannamandi and Bafliaz is also moving at snail’s pace. An overview of the Mughal Road as motorable round the year despite snow and harsh winter depends on the construction of the 8.8 kms long tunnel at Pir Ki Gali.
We would like to appeal the entire involved agency in the construction of Mughal Road that this is a big national project and from security point of view it is of immense importance. As such, its completion has to be seen from a different angle. We hope that work on the tunnel and related tasks will be taken up without any more waiting and hassles.