SHOPIAN — Union minister Nitin Gadkari’s announcement that a tunnel would be built at Peer Ki Gali on Mughal Road has brought cheer to the residents of Jammu and Kashmir’s Shopian.
Talking to reporters earlier this month, Gadkari had shared the details of the Rs 5,000-crore project to make Mughal Road and an all-weather road connecting Poonch and Rajouri districts in the Jammu region to Shopian in the Kashmir valley.
Shopian’s residents feel the project will open up employment avenues for youngsters.
“We are elated about the upcoming Mughal Road tunnel. Its construction opens up job opportunities for the educated yet unemployed youngsters of Shopian, Poonch and Rajouri districts,” Aijaz Ahmad, a resident of Heerpora in Shopian, said.
Despite Shopian being located at a distance of only around 85 km from Bafliaz in Poonch, commuters have to travel more than 450 km when the stretch of road connecting the two places is closed for almost six months during heavy snowfall at Peer ki Gali.
Shopian and the twin border districts of Poonch-Rajouri have historical ties that have withstood the test of time. People of the two regions are also connected through marriages and business.
“We hope the Mughal Road tunnel construction starts soon. It will provide a huge relief to the people here,” Bashir Ahmad Parwana, another Shopian resident, said.
Meanwhile, demands have grown louder for opening Mughal Road around the Eid-ul-Fitr festival. The road was closed for the winter months in January owing to heavy snowfall in the upper reaches of the mountains, including at Pir ki Gali.
The residents have appealed to the local administration for an early snow clearance.
“We request the administration that this road be opened before Eid so that people can visit their homes for the celebrations,” Parwana said.
Liaqat Ahmad said locals are facing a lot of difficulties. “It takes us four hours to cross the two ridges. We appeal for an early restoration of traffic,” he added.
Abdul Rashid Dar, an official, said, “We have cleared the snow from a 40-km stretch from Heerpora to Peer ki Gali. All our equipment like snow-cutters etc. have been pressed into operation.” — (PTI)