Delhi team visits Valley to discuss Uri-Muzaffarabad road
3 December 2004
News Network International
Srinagar: Ahead of the technical level talks on Uri-Muzaffarabad road, a high level central team visited Uri and Baramulla to discuss the modalities with the state government officials. The team was headed by joint secretary of union ministry of surface transport Ashok Rawat. The team had a detailed interaction with the state government officials, security forces and Border roads organizations. The visit comes 10 days ahead of the proposed technical level talks on the Uri- Muzaffarabad road. The Indo-Pak officials are meeting in Islamabad on December 8 to discuss the modalities about the reopening of Uri- Muzaffarabad road and plying of bus service. The central teams visit also comes close on the heels of the Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh's Rs 24,000 crore economic reconstruction package to Jammu and Kashmir. Upgradation of Srinagar-Uri-LoC road has been included in the prime minister's package. The up-gradation of this Srinagar-Uri- LoC road is among the three major roads that Khanabal-Pahalgam and Narbal-Tangmarg that has been included in the economic package. The 313-kilometers Srinagar-Kohala (in Muzaffarabad) road was the main and the first surface communication between Kashmir and the rest of the world. It is presently operational up to Week Bridge - the footbridge that falls in the no-mans-land on the LoC. Being the first ever surface communication between Kashmir and rest of the world, it's construction was the result of British pressure on Maharaja Ranbir Singh. Historians have recorded the tireless efforts of a British officer Col Nisbets' in making this 'magnificent piece of engineering' with the help of the then state engineer Alkinson. Work on the road started in 1880 and was completed in a decade, it was finally thrown open in 1892 when Pratap Singh was driven in a bull-driven cart to Domel. A British firm Spedding & Co charged Maharaja a sum of Rs. 21, 78,870. The road was a revolution. Within a year the imports touched Rs. 66,16,145 and exports Rs. 65,05,088. Gradually the road proved of logistical infrastructure and economic value. With a distance of 125 kilometers from Srinagar to Lal Pul (last stop at line of control falling in this side of Kashmir), this is the only all weather road which remains open 365 days in Jammu and Kashmir. Also known as Jhelum Valley road, the highway was operational till 1947.