Roads leading to Pahalgam in bad shape, commuters suffer

Dilapidated condition of Khanabal-Pahalgam road. —Excelsior/Sajad Dar
Dilapidated condition of Khanabal-Pahalgam road. —Excelsior/Sajad Dar

Suhail Bhat

SRINAGAR, May 15: Two vital road links- Khanabal-Pahalgam and Bijbehara-Langabal- connecting Kashmir’s famed tourist resort  Pahalgam  with the rest of the Valley are in an extremely dilapidated condition, inconveniencing hundreds of people.
The locals complained that the roads have developed big potholes, ditches, and rough patches, causing problems of commuting for thousands of people every day. Besides, they are denting the image of the place by leaving a bad impression among the tourists who visit the place.
“The condition of the roads shows the non-seriousness of authorities towards this key tourist destination. The roads should have received special attention but nothing much has happened,” Aijaz Ahmad, a local said, adding it is taking a toll on the tourism of the area.
Pahalgam is believed to be the most favored hill station in Kashmir and lakhs of tourists irked by the scorching summer heat find refuge here.  Apart from this, over five lakh Amarnath yatris use Pahalgam as a stopover (Base Camp) in their annual pilgrimage that would commence from July this year.   However, the authorities have failed to improve the basic infrastructure.
For last three years, as per locals, the roads are in a dilapidated condition with potholes and ditches, “For last three years roads have not been repaired, sidelining the interests of people,” said Hanief Rather, a local, about conditions of the road.
“We have raised our voices against the issue several times,” he added, complaining the department has been sitting idle on the matter “inflicting miseries on people” and “giving a bumpy ride to tourist.”
The drivers ferrying tourists to Pahlagm too showed dismay over the condition of the road. “Besides discouraging tourist, the roads also damage our vehicle,” a local driver said, adding that while the picturesque environs along the roads leave tourists awestruck, scruffy surfaces turn their ride into a nightmare.
Executive Engineer, R and B division, Khanabal, Mohammad Ayoub said that the macadamization of KP road is underway and the second road would be repaired very soon.  “The macadamization of KP road commenced yesterday and tenders for the repair of other roads have already been floated. Repairing of the second road will start in one week, “ he said.