By Sheikh Umar Ahmad: 

Srinagar – Jammu National highway is among the most deadliest of roads in India and world over owing to its sensitivity and fragility to natural calamities throughout the year. Every year thousands of lives are lost to the voraciousness of this road due to landslides, avalanches, shooting stones and above all to it’s being seismic zone that disturbs the ecological stability and tensity of this very important Eco-zone that continue for the whole year. Different strategies have been used in the past and in present also to curb this rising destructive disturbance of this highway, but every time it failed owing to administrative lackadaisical attitude of state authorities, who for their meager vested interests defer the all important vital projects projected for this road for best reasons known to all of them. Sometimes, it is financial implications and other times the disturbance in executing the work by inclement weather conditions results in deferment and delaying of making this road virtually an all weather connectivity. The much awaited four laning of this road had started way back decades ago, but is still continuing at snail’s pace with likely looking no light at the end of tunnel. Such is the sorry state of this national road that every time when it rains for an hour or 2, there is a fear of landslide at any place all along this road that impacts the daily or important work of passengers. Though such calamities cannot be prevented from happening but could be minimized based on the current technological intervention through some refined executions that have already started but are lingering over years in absence of a well off policy document to commensurate the same on ground. Lot of state exchequer had been spent on this road but except for some few tunnels that too at the non vulnerable spots, we have seen nothing on the ground from yesteryear’s. Every year new dates are released for the completion of these projects, but there seems no end to the wastrel of talks.

This year’s snow tragedy has again put the state administration in cauldron for not remaining vigilant and prepared for this tragedy that had been forecasted much before week’s time. But akin to this all, we have seen people stranded on roads, children, women, young and old who for their own different purposes have started their journey’s on this road are still stranded and there was no help from the state authorities to any of them, except for some help from locals who have come all across from different places of valley particularly from south Kashmir districts for their help. State administration have given false promises to come in rescue but it is not their current ploy, but over years they have falsely propagated this nuisance of first letting the passengers go and then leaving them on God’s mercy. Students who were to travel for their papers from Srinagar to Jammu and who have put their sweat and sense together in preparing for these papers were left in lurch in absence of a strong state policy for these types of rare episodes. Time is right now to think of an out of box strategy for overcoming this debacle once and for all. Lot could have been done in the past as well to minimize these intense damages of these natural calamities if not all by allocating special yet miniature budget based on the concised theme of “Special Budget for National Highway Disaster Relief Fund” to cater to these types of natural calamities. When the funds will be kept available for these types of occurrences, then it will not be any burden for the state exchequer to gear up all of a sudden.

The special airline for the stranded passengers to rescue them from the road could further ease the tension of affects one’s who come from different parts of India either as tourists or being locals and travelling for their personal works. We also see that every time when this road is blocked, the prices for essential commodities sky rocket and lot of passengers could barely afford to fill their bellies. Special provisions should be kept for this also and the sudden price hike should be monitored by the concerned agencies. This year’s Snow tragedy was a blessing in disguise for some socio-religious organizations as well except for some few individual groups who took this advantage for promotion of their human centric approach yet for showoff mere only on the pretext to get in focus, by clearing the local village roads, establishing disaster management cells all of a sudden without any logistic support from anywhere and more than that, displaying this taunt on the online media for just publicity stunt is a squandered job. If they really feel the pain and miserly condition of these people living in their catchment, it should have been their rationale to help those also stranded on roads who have come all across from different places to visit Kashmir or else in wake of their work. We see small kids still in their infancy of outlook, young old and women who are burning their fat against the psychotic display of snow are waiting for an angelic help, but akin to this all, it was a sorry state of affairs both from the administration who every time remain offshore and by some socio-religious organization’s who have displayed one of most religious intrusive, corruptive, selfish and above all communal disruptive attitude to traumatize this whole lot.

P.S.:- There should be a separate budget for this amateur national highway on the name of “National Highway Disaster Rescue Fund” to cater to these natural calamities and a separate department needs to be conceived and in it should be enshrined the document framework policy to implement this all on ground, so that every time when it times, there is minimal loss both to life as well to property.

Also, administration at the helm should departmentalize a separate disaster rescue air traffic line for these types of untoward natural events with 24*7 service display to rescue the affected ones. We have seen over year’s people suffering because of the ill-conceived state policies that defer the important and vital road projects that should have been completed on priority basis. Now, till this all happens & whether if it happens for good, it is prerogative to all of us to come forward at these times and establish an example of selfless service irrespective of organizational or individual centric vested interest so that we will be favored on the day of judgment based on these favors from us to Humanity in general. May Allah help us & guide us all, Inshah’Allah

The author is freelance writer and currently working as Doctoral Research Scholar (DST INSPIRE FELLOW) at CSIR–Indian Institute of Integrative Medicine, Jammu, (J&K).
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