Following the latest spell of snowfall in Kashmir, the 270 kilometre long treacherous Srinagar-Jammu Highway was yet again in news; unfortunately, for wrong reasons. It remained closed from both the sides and hundreds of vehicles remained stranded.
As the snow was falling from the skies, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir issued an advisory and directed for the rationing of the fuel and essential commodities in valley.
Over 7 million people during the hostile weather remained cut off from the rest of the world via surface as well as air link. All the flights were grounded; the heavy snowfall even disrupted the intra connectivity in valley with people facing immense hardships.
While the normal life was yet to be resorted in valley, the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha in UT’s winter capital Jammu announced a mega industrial package. The whopping Rs 28000 crore package is aimed to be invested in Jammu and Kashmir in next 17 years to boost the industrial sector.
It envisages over 4.5 lakh job opportunities for the youths. It is also being said that two IT towers will be a reality soon in both Kashmir and Jammu province. While this is still a dream, shaping it in reality may take a bit longer. On the other side the Union Minster Nitin Gadkari vows to build a hill station at Zojilla that can be more beautiful than Davos. It is true that the tourism potential especially for winters is not tapped fully yet in Kashmir region. It has diverse opportunities in tourism sector and can bring huge economic prosperity to UT.
However, ahead of such moves, there is a need of massive infrastructural overhaul in Union Territory and especially in Kashmir. The region is not the lone place on planet witnessing snowfall. Hundreds of places across the world are witnessing snowfall and are topographically landlocked. But they have been built up and all the facilities have been placed properly standing against all weather vagaries. More than investing in the industrial packages, the government must put the proper mechanism in place. Let there be no disruption in basic facilities.
Let roads, power supply and water facilities may remain unaffected in all weather conditions. Let the night life may pick up so that any business venture that establish its units in Kashmir may have opportunity to work 24/7. For any industrial revolution, the road and rail links are serving as backbone. Even India’s rail link is considered as the backbone of its economy.
So how it is possible in Kashmir which is not only landlocked and facing immense weather vagaries to appear on the industrial map when it lacks both road and rail links. The primary thrust of the centre shall be to finish twin projects of four lane Srinagar Jammu highway and rail link connecting Kashmir with the rest of country. Once the infrastructure is available of all international standard norms, bringing the industrial revolution in UT may turn into reality. Until then all these packages and promises may prove ineffective.