Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Will Omer complete grandpa's project


31 Years On Desa-Kaprin Road Still A Distant Dream
Naseer A Ganai 
Srinagar, Feb 9: For the past 31 years, successive regimes have failed to complete the construction of an alternate road to link Doda, Kisthwar districts, which are presently cut off from the rest of the world, with Kashmir.
 Last week, heavy landslide washed away 200 meters of Batote Kisthwar highway connecting the twin districts with rest of the world bringing back into focus the urgency to provide an alternate route to the hill region. “It was washed away due to construction of Baglihar dam. The government must seriously think about completing the work on alternate routes to the two districts,” said an official hailing from the area.   
 The Kaprin-Dessa road taken up in the 1978 is the alternate link to Doda district. Once completed, it will link the two Kashmiri speaking districts with Islamabad in Kashmir region. In the three decades past, out of its 110-km length, only 24 km from Doda side and 45 km from Kashmir side have been constructed.  
 From the valley side, officials said, earthwork had been completed on 7.5 km out of 45 km from Kaprin. On the Doda side, 24 km stretch upto to Manjami has been made motorable. The chief engineer, Roads and Buildings, Kashmir, Mir Muhammad Shafi, claimed that 30 km from Kashmir side was motorable. “But presently it is closed due to snow,” he said.   
 Syed Hanif Hashmi, president of the Chenab Valley Development Council, which is demanding  a Hill Development Council for the Chenab valley districts, said the construction of the road was a dream of late Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. 
 Initially, Hashmi said, the plan was to extend Doda –Desa road to Kaprin to link it up with eventually with Kashmir. “When Sheikh Abdullah issued single line administration order in 1976, Doda being backward area was given District Development Board. Sheikh Abdullah was its chairman and Mirza Afzal Beg, deputy chairman.” 
 In 1977, Hashmi said, he was the member of the Board when the proposal for the road was mooted. “The proposal was approved and the work was started in 1978.” 
 Among the politicians of Doda, late Attaullah Suharwardy was at the forefront. “He always wished that project should be completed but his wish was not fulfilled,” he said. 
 Hashmi said that this vital project remained incomplete due to political indifference. 
 A senior official of Roads and Building Department said that only Rs 46 crore were required to complete the project. “Lack of adequate funds is hampering the work,” he said.
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