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Landslides hamper restoration of Indo-Pak road

Last updated on: October 24, 2005 20:17 IST
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Frequent landslides are hampering restoration of the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road in Kashmir, officials said on Monday.

"Every time we restore a particular stretch and move ahead, landslides bring down boulders, blocking the road. Much of our time is consumed in removing these huge blocks of rock," said S S Dasaka, chief engineer, Border Roads Organisation's Beacon Project.

The agency has airlifted heavy equipment and bulldozers to restore the communication links between the two Kashmirs. "We dismantled two heavy bulldozers and had them flown by Mi-17 choppers to Udoosa (the last village on the Indian side of LoC) where they are being reassembled for operations.

"We plan to move in two more such dozers to speed up restoration of the entire stretch," Dasaka said.

Out of the total road length of 17.5 kms, around 11.5 km till Red Bridge has been partially restored.

The quake also ravaged a key stretch of the Srinagar-Muzaffarbad road beyond Uri, leaving in limbo the fate of the 'Caravan-e-Aman' that ferried people across both sides of the divide for the past six months.

The BRO is working at the stretch from Uri to Kaman Post.

With Kaman Post being one of the three points on the LoC that India has suggested to Pakistan for setting up camps for joint relief and rehabilitation, restoring this vital road link has become a mission for the BRO.

Beacon-- the BRO agency in charge of road maintenance-- lost 60 of its personnel in the earthquake as massive landslides washed away large tracts of the road.

"We are hopeful that the road can be made motorable by early December," Dasak said.

Work on the Aman Setu (Peace Bridge) which had also suffered damages, will be taken up as soon as the road becomes motorable, officials said, raising the hopes of people here who are eagarly awaiting the resumption of the bus service.

According to reports, two pyres of the Aman Setu have been damaged on the PoK side rendering the crossing of the bridge even by foot hazardous.

Officials say the restoration of the road from Uri to Kaman Post is a mammoth exercise since the road has been completely blocked by boulders that need to be removed using heavy bulldozers.

Early restoration of this border road will not only help put the bus service back on track, but also facilitate relief operations to border villages like Udoosa, Jabala Garkote and Namala.

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