Introduction Srinagar-Jammu national highway, built-in 1926 by Dogra ruler Hari Singh to transport him, his family and the royal court on both side of the state during winter and summer, is one of the two roads (the other being Mughal Road) connecting Kashmir valley to the rest of the country. It is about 300 Kms from Srinagar to Jammu. The road is full of curves along the Himalayan mountains range. Landslides can be often seen on the road and which result in the massive traffic jam on the national highway.
National highway was marked NH 1A before renumbering of the all national highways and now named as NH44. It is the longest running National highway in India starting from Srinagar and ends in Kanyakumari. The Srinagar-Jammu national highway has virtually become a jugular vein of Kashmir valley which connects the valley with the rest of the states of India.
Risky and Unreliable The Govt. is spending a lot of money on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway to keep it open during all the seasons, but during winters, the road becomes deadliest due to avalanches and frequent landslides. This disruption of the road is the major concern for travellers on Srinagar-Jammu highway. The road is full of stretches at most places particularly between Ramban and Ramsu area which is more prone to the avalanches and landslides resulting in the disruption of the traffic on the national highway.
Though there has been a massive work on the road, and the distance between Srinagar-Jammu has been considerably reduced by Chinani-Nashre tunnel which was inaugurated on 2 April 2017 by Shri Narendra Modi, the PM of India: But it is still a concern for travellers on the national highway.
The arduous stretches of the road are Khone Nallah (stream of blood), Sher Bibi (abode of a lioness), Makerkhote ( abode of gorillas) and Panthal ( Devils overhang). These unreliable and risky stretches on the road give shivers to the traveller's spine; any miscalculation of the road can take you down to 400-feet in the deep gorge.
During winters it is dangerous During winters, when there are more snow and rain, the road becomes unreliable and traitorous for travellers. If you get stuck into it, you remain stranded for so many days on the road. While writing this piece, Jammu-Srinagar is closed due to fresh heavy snowfall in the Banihal where 3 km long Jawahar tunnel on a Pir Panjal range is built (1950) to move across the state. With this fresh snowfall, avalanche hits Srinagar-Jammu highway and 10 people are missing! Hundreds and thousands of Vehicles and passengers are stranded on the national highway braving the arduous journey in the chill of this winters. It becomes a herculean task for BRO, mostly during winters when there are more snow and rain to maintain the road and streamline the traffic.
The Srinagar-Jammu national highway is controlled by the control rooms on both sides of the state in Srinagar and Jammu. They provide all the updates about the condition of the road- avalanche warnings, landslides and whether the road is closed or not for the travellers before they can embark on a journey on the road.
Conclusion We need some extraordinary measures to keep this virtual jugular vein open during all the seasons for which the state can seek help from other countries that have already worked on such types of projects. Such measures should be immediately taken to relieve people of the state, because the sooner it is done, the better it would be!