The snow clearance operation on the Mughal road is likely to be completed next week, officials said on Saturday, as demands grew louder for its opening around the “Eid-ul-Fitr” festival.
The road, an alternate link connecting the twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri in Jammu region with south Kashmir’s Shopian, was closed for winter months in January owing to heavy snowfall in the upper reaches, including at Pir Ki Gali.
“The snow clearance operation by the Mechanical Engineering department is in its final phase and we are expecting its completion next week.
“It will be followed by a joint inspection by civil and traffic police departments before its formal reopening for vehicular traffic,” Assistant Executive Engineer (AEE), Public Works department (Mughal road project), Shoukat Ali said.
During his recent two-day tour of inspect various road projects in Jammu and Kashmir, Union Road, Transport, and Highways minister Nitin Gadkari had announced construction of a Rs 5,000 crore tunnel at Pir Ki Gali to transform Mughal road into an all weather road.
Assistant Engineer, Mechanical Engineering Department, Tariq Mehmood Khan said the road was cleared of accumulated snow about two weeks ago but a fresh spell of snowfall delayed its opening.
“Our men and machinery are on the job and we are expecting to complete the snow clearance operation by next week,” he said.
Apni party leader and former minister Choudhary Zulfkar Ali demanded immediate opening of Mughal Road and said it was unfortunate that the concerned authorities who were responsible to keep the historic alternative road to Kashmir operational have failed to do so.
“The Mughal Road was supposed to open in the first week of March but is still closed, causing inconvenience to the people as hundreds of them travel from one region to another on a daily basis for varied reasons including health checkups, employment, education and trade,” he said.
Ali said Mughal road passes through breathtaking scenery, having a huge potential for tourism and economic growth.
Mendhar Sumo drivers Union also expressed concern over the delay in the reopening of the Mughal road.
“We are suffering because of the closure of the road over the past several months. We have taken our vehicles on loan from banks and it is very hard to make repayment of the loan due to limited business opportunities,” Union officials said.
Youth leader Raqeeq Ahmad Khan also sought the intervention of Lt Governor Manoj Sinha for immediate opening of the road before Eid-ul-Fitr festival.
“Number of employees, students, patients and labourers want to return home to celebrate Eid with their kin. It is unfortunate that the road is still closed in the month of April,” he said.