My Way, Not The Highway

This season’s heavy snowfall in the valley comes across as one of a kind! Partly because it’s being described as the heaviest snowfall in the valley in years and also because it’s the first ever winter in 45 years that I have perforce to spend in the valley, courtesy Covid! Come Dec, and I would head for Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi, Allahabad, Kanpur and other such locations to work and utilise my time more fruitfully and eventfully at the institutes over there. Though winters without snow in the valley are like summers without moonsoons in the plains of India, the sheer apathy and indifference of the administration towards the plight of the people in the valley, especially during such times when life in the valley has come to a grinding halt, are not encountered elsewhere. The most serious issues arise from long power breakdowns, water supply issues due to freezing of water pipes and the blocking of roads which are not cleared of snow for days, leading to suspension of supply lines and the resulting shortage of food and medicines. The story in rural Kashmir is many times more pathetic.

Come to think of it, the so called National Highway connecting Kashmir with the rest of India remains in tatters for the better part of the year, and gets that much deadlier for the purpose of undertaking a journey during the winter season. This because the highway has not been designed with the tools of modern technology as is the case with the Karakoram highway connecting Rawalpindi in Pakistan with Kashghar in China. Compared to the measly 300 KM’s long Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the Karakorm Highway, considered as a technological marvel, stretches over 1300 KM’s, located as it is at a maximum of 16000 ft above the sea level and is all-weather friendly, almost. 

Looks like there is a method in the madness! For what they have been going through on account of the frequent disruption in the highway connectivity, people in Kashmir like to think that there is a design behind the lack of resolve by the successive governments at the Centre to redesign the highway on modern lines. Leave alone the K-issue which has been the main reason for the mess in Kashmir and also as the main stumbling block in mainstreaming Kashmir. However, the hard fact remains that an important contributing factor on that count has been a strange line of thinking in the ruling establishments in Delhi to continue to leave the national highway in the shambolic state it has always been in. Else, the highway would since have been modernised as an all weather highway as has been done in the case of the Karakoram highway. Reeks of “My way, not the highway”.

The views and opinions expressed by the writer are personal and do not necessarily reflect the official position of VOM.
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Written by M A Sofi


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