Srinagar: The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited has engaged a Spanish Consultancy firm and an Indian private consultant to prepare a report for the construction of a tunnel on Mughal Road that connects Kashmir with the Jammu division. The tunnel is aimed at turning Mughal Road into an all-weather route and reduce the traffic pressure on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
The Mughal road, which connects Kashmir Valley with Poonch, through Shopian district was opened for light motor vehicles in 2009. It, however, operates only in the summer months.
In winter, just like the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, the 84-km long Mughal road receives massive snowfall in parts including at Peer ki Gali, where, officials said, the proposed tunnel is likely to be constructed.
Making it an all-weather route will reduce traffic pressure on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, which serves as the crucial connector between the two divisions of the newly created union territory (UT).
According to senior officials of The National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL) and the Jammu and Kashmir civil administration, the Indian Company Rodic Consultants Private Limited will be collaborating with the Madrid-based Getinsa Euro Studios on the Mughal road project, which is said to be in its “very early stages” as of now.
Companies preparing detailed project report
The companies are currently preparing a detailed project report to estimate the approximate cost of the project, said Sanjeev Malik, executive director at NHIDCL.
The NHIDCL had in 2017 sought bids from eligible consultants to be involved in the DPR preparation and to work out pre-construction activities. It, however, put the tendering process on hold stating that the Ministry of Roads, Transport and Highways had not entrusted it with the work.
According to senior government officials, NHIDCL had once again invited proposals in the summer of 2018, days after governor’s rule was imposed in the erstwhile state of J&K.
“The consultants were chosen after a proper tendering process. Getsina is a well known Spanish consultancy and we are hoping that work on the project starts soon,” Khurshid Shah, secretary, Public Works Department, said. He added that the administration was working round the clock to get the projects done soon.
Among other major projects in the pipeline is the Zojila tunnel, which would connect Sonmarg in Kashmir to Kargil. There is also a project to connect south Kashmir’s Kokernag area to Kishtiwar in Jammu.
Officials said the new projects will make it easier for the public to travel back and forth across Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and make trade activities smoother.
“After the first snowfall we had to wait for two weeks for the winter shoes to arrive. First the highway was blocked due to the snowfall and then the subsequent traffic congestion on it delayed the vehicles carrying this year’s stock by many days,” said Shah Alam, a local businessman who deals in winter shoes in Kashmir. “There was such an acute shortage of winter shoes. Hopefully the second highway (Mughal road) gets constructed soon.”