COVID: Expedite opening of Mughal road so people of Pir Panjal can avail health services, demand Tribal Activists

Due to closure, people of Poonch and Rajouri are not able to travel to Kashmir in times of emergencies.

As Mughal road continues to remain closed for the last eight months, people of Poonch and Rajouri are unable to travel to Kashmir to avail health facilities in times of COVID pandemic.

The Mughal Road connecting Pir Panjal region with the Kashmir Valley remains closed for six to eight months every year due to snow and unfavourable weather conditions. Last year, the road was closed in November due to snowfall.

The road connects Poonch and Rajouri to Srinagar and as compared to Srinagar-Jammu National Highway, Mughal road has reduced the distance between Shopian and Poonch from 600km to 126km.

In March the government started snow clearance work on the roads which concluded in April. However, the road has not been made operational yet for any travel purposes.

Due to the closure of the road, the people of Poonch and Rajouri, who lack basic health infrastructure in their districts, are not able to travel to Kashmir in times of emergencies.

Tribal activist and State President, Jammu and Kashmir Gujjar Bakarwal Youth Welfare Conference (JKGBYWC), Zahid Parwaz Choudhary said, “As compared to Kashmir, Jammu does not have an efficient health infrastructure available to cater the needs of the entire division including Poonch. The Mughal road if opened can help people of Poonch to avail health services in Kashmir because it only takes 2 to 3 hours to reach Srinagar from Mughal road.”

The hospital in Poonch, Zahid said, has only 30 to 40 beds available without any oxygen facility and other life support systems.

“If the situation gets bad people can literally die for the want of healthcare if the road will continue to remain closed because it takes patients six hours to reach GMC Jammu from Poonch and in that time patients can even die,” Zahid said.

“We are appealing to the government to open Mughal road for at least health and medical emergencies. There should be mobile testing facilities available at various spots on this road so that people travelling to Kashmir are tested for COVID before entering the valley,” Zahid told Free Press Kashmir.

He added that it will be very helpful in these tough times if the government opens the Mughal road.

Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Pandurang K Pole said that the reason for not opening Mughal road for the travel is the health grounds.

“In Kashmir new cases of coronavirus are four times more than Poonch and Rajouri. There is no mobile testing facility available on this road which is why we have not opened it yet. However, in coming months we will throw it open for exporting cherry fruit to outside Kashmir,” he said.

Divisional Commissioner said that district level medical facilities are available in Poonch and Rajouri for any medical emergencies and GMC Jammu is also there.


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