Highway horror: when is it going to end?
Once again there has been a landslide on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, the only terrestrial link connecting Kashmir with the rest of the world. It is the month of April, when the snowfall does not occur and the spring is in its late stage. A mild rainfall of a few hours brings the entire traffic on the highway to a grinding halt. It is a time when the tulips are blooming in the tulip garden at Siraj Bagh on the banks of Dal Lake. When the tourists should have been tip toeing their way through the tulips, they are actually somehow trying to survive and wait it out on the highway. All the tourism promotion, the spring festival, the advertisements, the social media posts go down the drain when the tourists are not able to even reach Srinagar.
Add to that the fact that this is a marriage season. Lots of trucks loaded with sheep are on their way to Srinagar to be slaughtered for wedding banquets. A highway blockage of two days would ensure that the entire flock of sheep dies in heat and humidity on the highway. To add to the fact is the draconian order of the establishment that for two days of the week the highway would be out of bounds for the civilian vehicles. The order has already caused a few deaths on the highway and only time will tell what the actual cost of highway blockade would be.
The much awaited completion of the four-laning of the highway is still a distant dream. Year after year we hear the project is going to be completed. Year after we hear that Kashmir valley would be connected with the rest of the valley through railway network. Have these projects met with any progress? Why establishment is reluctant to come up with a deadline to complete these key projects?
Kashmiris continue to suffer due to the abject absence of highways which could connect it with the rest of the world. The establishment must take steps to end the deplorable condition of the existing highways.