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Mughal Road: Lifeline of  livelihoods, navigating hurdles for prosperity

To turn it into all-weather road, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the construction of the tunnel is in the last leg of approval.
03:03 AM Jan 05, 2024 IST | Gulzar Bhat
mughal road  lifeline of  livelihoods  navigating hurdles for prosperity

Shopian, Jan 4: Muffled up in several layers of clothing, Jahangir Ahmad is busy cleaning the rickety tables inside his small tea stall in an idyllic Heerpora village along the Mughal Road in south Kashmir’s Shopian district.


Soon some travellers get off a cab, rubbing their hands and blowing air onto them amid a sub-zero temperature.


Stepping inside the shop, Ahmad without asking anything put hot cups of tea, sugar-dusted biscuits, and cornbread on their tables.

The non-native travellers began slurping the tea and savoured each mouthful.


Ahmad, 36, set up the tea stall in 2018 after a row of shops came up on either side of the arterial road connecting Shopian with Bafliaz in Poonch district of Pir Panjal region.


The mini market provides livelihood to at least 200 to 250 people in the area.


“It became possible only due to the construction of Mughal Road,” Ganie said.


The bucolic village is known for its first-rate potatoes, which once provided livelihood to most of its inhabitants.

However, the production dipped significantly as the residents took to apple cultivation.

The Mughal Road, which was thrown open for Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) in 2009 opened up a window of opportunity for the locals to earn their livelihood by setting up small general stores, food joints, and other kiosks.

According to Ahmad, there are more than 100 shops in the village.

“Apart from this, dozens of vendors from some adjoining villages also sell their merchandise in the village,” he said.

Another resident said that the members of the nomadic Bakerwal community who move to alpine pastures along with their livelihood during summers also sell their dairy products in the area.

“And they usually receive better prices,” he said.

A short drive from the village along the sinuous road leads to the verdant pastures of Dubijan.

Environed by lofty pine trees, the place is home to a hot water spring, which many believe has a curative power.

During summers, people from many areas thronged the place to take a dip in the spring.

The awe-inspiring destination attracts numerous photo-freaks, vloggers, and travel aficionados. However, the closure of Mughal Road during winter takes a toll on local businesses.

The heavy snowfall at several places including Pir Ki Gali clogs up the road meandering through a thick forest cover for over 4 months, which comes as a blow to the local market during this period.

“During winters nobody visits here prompting us to shut our shops,” said a group of residents.

They said that in 2022, a heavy snowfall spurred the closure of the road on November 25.

“However, this year, the road is open for traffic due to favourable weather conditions,” the residents said.

Executive Engineer (R&B) Maqsood Ahmad told Greater Kashmir that the road would remain open unless there was a heavy snowfall, necessitating its closure.

To turn it into all-weather road, the Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the construction of the tunnel is in the last leg of approval.

The construction of the tunnel would not only promote the local economy but also offer an alternate surface link, connecting Kashmir with the rest of the country.

In April 2023, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said that the tunnel on the Mughal Road was among the top priorities of the Rs 1,25,000 crore project taken up in Jammu and Kashmir.

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