Batote-Kishtwar Road: People Demand Re-Alignment, Construction of Tunnel

Dawood Bashir

KISHTWAR

Batote-Kishtwar-highway
Batote-Kishtwar highway (File picture)

Batote-Kishtwar road which serves as the lifeline for the Chenab Valley with our 11 lakh souls was declared “National Highway” by the Union Government serves as the only commutable link for twin Doda and Kishtwar districts with rest of Jammu and Kashmir.

The communication breakdown of this region with the outer world is almost a daily-affair due to landslides, sinking away of road and shooting of stones at various locations.

Due to continuous downpour during the last fortnight, the Batote-Kishtwar road has faced continuous blockade at over a dozen locations viz; Hasti, Kandini, Premnagar, Khelani, Raggi Nallah, Batote and at various other places due to slipping down of soil portion and boulders at vulnerable sites, although the slips have been cleared but still larger portion has been packed up on the road making the highway only feasible for one-way traffic at these locations.

Last year’s torrential rain during March and April had damaged the highway severely; the highway had collapsed at many a places turning it into a death trap. Large portion of road was also washed away near Batote due to which highway remained closed for two days.

Doda-Batote road hit by roadblock Pic: Bilal Handoo
Doda-Batote road hit by roadblock
File pic: Bilal Handoo

This year, essential commodities like ration, kerosene and fuel are in shortage in Kishtwar district due to blockade of road, causing severe problems to the people. Shortage of fuel has also badly hit the transport system due to which commuters (Passengers, Drivers, Teachers, other government employees) are facing hard time.

Locals of Kishtwar blamed successive governments for its condition and demanded construction of Sudhmahadev-Marmat Tunnel and entire stretch of Batote-Kishtwar road should be re-aligned as the road is sinking at various locations due to formation of big catchment (Lake) of Baglihar Project and is vulnerable to landslides also an accident prone area.

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