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J&K: Mughal Road to get foundation stone on October 1

September 20, 2005 18:52 IST
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The shortest road connecting Kashmir and Jammu regions traversed by the caravans of Mughal emperors and its royal army 419 years ago would be made operational by March 2007.

"The foundation stone of the prestigious and shortest Mughal link (76 km) between Kashmir and Jammu regions would be laid on October 1, 2005," Jammu and Kashmir Roads and Building Minister, Gulam Ahmed Mir told PTI in Jammu.

The Mughal road would be made trafficable again as an alternative highway to connect Kashmir with rest of country by March 2007, Mir said.

"Twenty seven years after formulating the scheme, the Jammu and Kashmir government would work on the prestigious Rs 150 crore Mughal Road Project -- as an alternative highway in Kashmir. It would be made trafficable by 2007 March," he said.

Mir, who visited the project sites in Rajouri and Poonch district in May for basic survey, said tenders were floated and it was passed on to Hindustan Construction Company.

About 419 years ago, the Mughal Road was abuzz with caravans of emperors and their royal army controlled Kashmir, locked by sky high mountain ranges. It was through this road that Emperor Akbar conquered Kashmir in 1586.

Jammu and Kashmir government headed by the then chief minister Sheikh Abdullah, concieved this project in 1979 and named it as Mughal Road linking Rajouri-Poonch border belt of Jammu division directly with the Kashmir Valley at Shopian in Pulwama district. It was the shortest possible route via Bafliaz in Poonch district of Jammu region. 

In 1981, a proposal for construction of this road was prepared at a cost of Rs 150.80 crores and forwarded to the Union Ministry of Shipping and Surface Transport, which found it none feasible due to a 20 km tunnel.

Similarly, another report was prepared by BRO in 1989, without any tunnel, with 89 km road length costing Rs 100.63 crores. This proposal was accepted and it was decided that funding would be on 50:50 basis between Centre and state governments.

Post 1989, the area became a hotbed of militancy and construction work in Jammu was almost unthinkable till 1996, when the porposal for construction of Mughal Road was revived by then chief minister Farooq Abdullah and a project report was prepared by the state government owned Jammu and Kashmir Project Construction Company.

The road project costing Rs 159 crore was submitted to the Centre, but Defence Ministry raised objections that it would provide militants an easy access into Poonch from Pakistan.

But in the Defence Ministry and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not only cleared the project this year, but also promised full funding of the project, for which central government has provided Rs 79.50 crore so far.

As per blueprint, the road from Bafliaz to Shopian is 89-km-long and it will criss-cross through 11,500 to 13,000 feet mountain ranges, which is higher than Banihal pass on Jammu-Srinagar national highway and provide entry into Kashmir Valley.

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