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J&K: Mughal road to be revived

Source: PTI
September 30, 2005 16:09 IST
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Traversed by the caravans of Mughal emperors and their royal army 419 years ago, the Mughal road is now set to get its first foundation milestone in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday.

"The first ever foundation stone of the shortest 76-kilometre alternative highway between Kashmir and Jammu regions, Mughal road, would be laid on Saturday in Poonch and Shopian areas on the two sides of Pir Panchal ranges," state roads and building minister, G A Mir, told Press Trust of India.

"The foundation stone is being laid by Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Union minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Ghulam Nabi Azad on both sides at Shopian (Pulwama) and Surankote (Poonch) on the same day," he said. The Mughal road will again become an alternative highway to connect Kashmir with the rest of the country by March 2007, Mir said.

"Twenty-seven years after the Jammu & Kashmir government conceived the project, government work on this prestigious Rs 150-crore Mughal road project is on and it would be made trafficable by March 2007," the minister said.

Mir said national tenders were floated and Mughal road tender was passed on to the Hindustan Construction Company. It is said that Akbar used this road link to conquer Kashmir in 1586.

After several centuries, the J&K government headed by the then chief minister Sheikh Abdullah conceived this project in 1979 and named it Mughal Road. The project ran into rough weather due to several reasons including the onset of militancy. After 1989, the area became a hotbed of militancy and construction work here was almost unthinkable till recently. But the efforts of present Roads and Buildings minister, G A Mir paid off and defence ministry and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh not only cleared the Rs 159-crore project but also promised full funding for the project.

The central government has provided Rs 79.5 crore so far. The road starts from Jhelum town (now in Pakistan), touches Kotli (in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir), Thanamandi (Rajouri district) and runs all the way to Chandimarh in Pir Panchal mountains.

One branch of the road goes to Shopian via Heepora. As per the blueprint, the road from Bafliaz to Shopian is 89 kilometres long and it will cross the 13,000 feet mountain range, which is higher than Banihal pass on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. The road will be constructed from Bafliaz (Poonch) through Chandimarh, Dugram, Pir Panchal pass, Ghurd, Aliahad Saria, Sukh Saria and Heerpura to Shopian. Mir gave credit to United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the PM for the start of the project.

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