Mismanagement of National Highway

We are accustomed to witnessing frequent disruption of traffic on Srinagar and Jammu National Highway during heavy rains and snowfall but this time, due to none of these reasons, this vital road connection between the two capital cities getting suspended seem unusual and unfamiliar . For full two days, as at the time of going to the press, the road having remained completely closed has not been yet thrown fully open causing hundreds of vehicles to get stranded on both sides of the road . The Ramban sector situated on the banks of the Chenab river of this most busy national highway , being the important central point,very often gets landslides and heavy shooting stones down on the road causing traffic disruptions for hours and at times for days together . The same is the case and cause in respect of the current closure of the vital National Highway.
This road right from Jammu – Udhampur – Banihal route to Kashmir used to be known as cart road with a suspended bridge over the river but during the last over six decades, this road turned into one of the most busy National Highways thanks to superb innovative facelift , development , widening , tunnelling en-route at certain specific places including the engineering marvel of Jawahar Tunnel and the latest engineering magic of India’s longest road tunnel known as Chenani Nashri Tunnel.
This time, landslides took place due to the widening of a particular road patch in Ramban area which was not only very important from the technical point of view but to minimise , if not fully prevent, any future disruptions in traffic movement due to frequent landslides in this belt due to rains and snowfall. In other words , there were no rains or snowfall in the said area to cause landslides but disruptions were due to road “improvement and widening” by the executing agency which has engaged , for the said purpose, heavy machinery between Monkey Morh and Digdolh which is about 10 Kms from Ramban towards Kashmir. These landslides and falling of shooting stones and boulders have caused closure of the Highway due to which as many as 5000 vehicles are stranded . It is not that the work of removing the hurdles and the fallen debris is not undertaken but reports are that after clearing one patch of the road , another got the same problem .
There are certain geological reasons with this belt on this National Highway and to find an alternative solution and other dependable route or to explore the possibilities of constructing of a tunnel must be the priority of both the Central Government and the State Government . Agreed, the cost would be phenomenal but recurring maintenance and repairing costs cumulatively reckoned over couple of years would too not be any less. Since this falls primarily under the domain of highly professional and technical personnel, engineers, geologists, skilled workers etc followed by planners in the Ministry of Finance , we would , however, impress upon the Governments concerned to think and actively work on this plan.
The fact of the matter is that otherwise this road now takes only 8 to 9 hours to reach either of the capital cities but when problems occur like as present, hours together are wasted in long wait for road clearance . Making Mughal Road a dependable alternative must be thought of and steps initiated in that direction by the State Government in close rapport with the Central Government. In the meantime, we wish early reopening of the road and restoring full normalcy which had been experienced very recently after lifting of the restrictions of two days in a week on this Highway.