Expressing serious concern over frequent closure of the Srinagar-Jammu highway, the Kashmir Economic Alliance Chairman Haji Muhammad Yasin Khan has said that the pathetic condition of this only road link to the outside world has become a means of taking Kashmir and its people hostage.
He said over seven million souls living in Kashmir have left at the mercy of landslides disrupting the highway connectivity only because alternative links to Kashmir including the need to make Mughal Road all-seasons connectivity have not been explored even after 70 years.
In a statement, Khan, who also heads Kashmir Traders and Manufacturers Federation said while the rest of the world is getting benefitted through the advancement of technology, the Srinagar Jammu highway has taken a reverse gear.
“In the last three months, the highway remained closed for over three dozen times which is something alarming and this badly affected normal life and economic activities in the region,” Khan said.
He said not any bad weather but the reportedly faulty execution of the highway widening between Banihal and Ramban was a main reason for the frequent highway blockade.
He said the travel down the highway has become a horrific experience as every traveller has a treat to his or her life. “In the last three months, not a single vehicle may have traversed the highway undamaged, while the escape of passengers from landslides and shooting stones is not less than a miracle,” he said.
He said the while the common people were suffering unheard, the transportation of the goods has equally affected lives of common people.
“Apples that were being transported outside the valley have been rotting due to frequent blockade while same holds true for import of perishable commodities like fruits and vegetables, and even livestock that die in bulk before entering Kashmir and as a result business community is suffering huge losses running into crores,” Khan said.
He said given the fact that the highway widening and traffic regulation has to be maintained by multiple agencies including Beacon, Traffic Police, Div Comms of Kashmir and Jammu and others, ideally Governor should have asked the Chief Secretary to personally look into the matter and evolve a proper mechanism in coordination with the stakeholders.
“But even as Kashmir has been facing crises including a shortage of essentials including fuel and cooking gas, the government is unmoved,” Khan said.
“What we have learnt is that perishable items and fuel are made to halt and construction material is being transported on priority.”
Maintaining that silence of the Raj Bhawan on this issue of critical importance has only added to public woes, he appealed New Delhi and Governor SP Malik to look into the matter.
Spokesperson Farhan Kitab said,”The alternative connectives including Mughal Road and road link to Chenab Valley should be explored at an earliest provided the lives of people of Kashmir carry any importance for those at the helm.”