Published On: Thu, Jan 30th, 2014

Road to turmoil!

Editorial January 2014

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Ours is a state which is in a classic ‘backwardness trap’ of low economic activity, low employment and low-income generation. With its unique historical, institutional and political factors, the State is confronted with some unique economic disadvantages arising mostly out of its poor road connectivity. It may sound unusual, but it is a fact, there are some areas of the State, surrounded by high mountains, virtually inaccessible with vehicular traffic unknown in the villages. Even in the 21st century, people have not seen a motorcar or a bus driving into the lush valleys here. This poor connectivity has never brought the state out of its remoteness.

So, developing roads here is a huge development. But the kind of conflict existing here has politicized any developmental initiative for human welfare. We have witnessed turmoil over road to Amarnath cave. Now, if reports are to be believed, construction of a 12-km concrete road from Gulmarg to Apharbhat Peak, to set up Mountain Radar at Apharbhat by the Indian Airforce is as good as poisoning not only the ecology of the area but also further contaminating the political conflicts in the state.

The proposed road to Apharbhat is yet another dangerous move and can trigger violent protests across the Kashmir valley. Those on a look out for an opportunity to commit a mischief will only make merry and a common man will suffer. By all standards – first from ecological point of view and then the kind of conflict existing here makes no sense to construct a road to Apharbhat.

What is needed is to lay emphasis on increasing the road links between rural and urban areas, as well as between cities in close proximity. This kind of road connectivity between rural and urban centres within the state will have a far-reaching implications for poverty reduction as this will lead to improvement in income generating opportunities. The focus should be on connecting the growth centres to markets. Reviving rural J&K through a massive rural road connection and rehabilitation programme as part of the overall connectivity strategy will have a large payoff by way of peace dividends.

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