DPR for historic Mughal Road tunnel near completion: Officials

The historic Mughal Road connects Kashmir with Poonch via the southern Shopian district and if the tunnel is constructed, the road would be an alternative to Srinagar-Jammu national highway, which often remains closed during winters due to landslides and shooting stones.

Anantnag: After much delay, the detailed project report (DPR) for the proposed Mughal road tunnel is finally near completion. The government had set into motion its preparation in August 2019.

Earlier the National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDC) entrusted with the job in March that year engaged Rodic Consultants private Limited in a joint venture with Madrid-based Getnisa-Euro studios to prepare DPR.

“It (Rodic) subsequently started working on the DPR and submitted a preliminary project assessment (PPR) and then for long nothing more was done,” an official in the Mughal Road division told Greater Kashmir.

He, said, however, that lately the consultancy has shown seriousness and completed the survey of the project.

“The report is now being prepared and is expected to be submitted in a couple of months’ time,” an official said. The consultancy he said has estimated the cost of the project to be approximately Rs 4000 crore. An NHIDCL official, however, said that“ since the work involved is complex and requires geotechnical expertise, it takes time for completion of DPR

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“It is then for the government and public works department to take a call on its final approval,” an official said.

Executive Engineer, Mughal Road division, Shabir Ahmad also confirmed that the DPR preparation is in full swing.

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“NHIDCL officials last month held a meeting with us and it is expected that the project report would now be submitted soon,” Ahmad said.

The historic Mughal Road connects Kashmir with Poonch via the southern Shopian district and if the tunnel is constructed, the road would be an alternative to Srinagar-Jammu national highway, which often remains closed during winters due to landslides and shooting stones.

Though conceptualised decades ago, the 84 km-long Shopian-Poonch road was opened for light vehicles only in 2009.

However, the road that would provide an alternative link to Kashmir with the outside world remains open for traffic during summer months only as heavy snowfall at several places including Peer Ki Gali and Bafliaz shuts it during winters. The ambitious project had not seen any progress for a decade despite repeated assurances by the government of India.

In 2015, the PDP-BJP coalition government in its Common Minimum Program (CMP) put the construction of tunnel as its top priority. Later, the states roads and building ministry repeatedly took up the issue with the union ministry of roads, transport, and highways (MORTH).

Following repeated pleas of the state government, NHIDCL 2017 sought bids from eligible consultants for the preparation of DPR and to work out pre-construction activities for the tunnel. However, the concessionaire suddenly put the tendering process on hold arguing that the MoRTH had not entrusted the project to it,

Days after the imposition of governor rule in the state in 2018, the NHIDC again invited proposals for two laning of the Mughal road and construction of the tunnel.

“ A separate DPR is being prepared for the widening of the road,” an official said. The people on either side are eager to see the project accomplished, believing that it would ease their miseries.

“The construction of the tunnel has been our long-pending demand but despite assurances by successive regimes, we have been let down every time.

This time we hope it won’t the project would be taken up soon and completed in time, said Muhamad Haroon, a teacher from Poonch He said if the road becomes all-weather, it would certainly ease the miseries of people on both sides, which remain inaccessible due to harsh winters.

Ajaz Ahmad, a local scribe from Shopian said the tunnel would also increase inter-regional accessibility and also boost the economy of the region

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