J&K govt yet to begin geological survey of NH-1B


Rinku Choudhary

Despite being slide-prone, slippery and accident prone; Jammu and Kashmir government is yet to order geological investigation and fresh feasibility survey of National Highway-1B, which connects Doda-Kishtwar region with rest of the country.
Call it ignorance of those at the helm of affairs in BJP-PDP coalition government or non-seriousness of the state as well as union ministry but the fact remains that none has so far even issued a handout to express seriousness towards addressing the issue of National Highway-1B having become death trap for those travelling on it.

Earlier, it was slipping of surface and now, the rocks have started falling apart. A 15 to 20 minute rain is enough to bring down huge boulders and rock stones. More importantly, the rocks have become so weak that in an incident, a huge rock stone fell on a moving vehicle near Assar, leading to injuries to several passengers who were travelling from Doda to Jammu.

In another incident, a portion of the rock got separated and fell on the road. This led to highway remaining closed for almost three days. Those travelling from Batote to Kishtwar and Doda find the entire road life threatening yet none is ready to accept the truth that road was always geologically unfeasible and had been constructed for political considerations without looking into feasibility by consulting the geological experts.

The road, according to geologists should not have been constructed without a proper survey. They maintain that it would have survived for another 20 to 30 years, if the Baglihar dam would not have been constructed. They further say that the manner in which rocks have started falling apart and land has begun slipping, things are likely to take turn towards the worse in the days to come.

They see a pattern in the falling apart of hard rocks which form base of the road. Geologists do not hesitate in saying that government would be forced to declare road unsafe for travel in the next 4 to 5 years. They maintain that government should begin exploring an alternate highway for Doda and Kishtwar. Geologists further say that they do not see any hope in National Highway-1B continuing in its present form.

They strongly advocate that government should start surveying alternate route and if there is any further delay, it would be caught unaware. Such has the road to Doda and Kishtwar districts become dangerous that people have begun talking about demanding aerial connectivity with rest of the country. This strange demand is being raised since the plea of people of this region for taking up the geological investigation of rock surface of National Highway-1B with the state as well as central government went unheard.