It may not be Merry Christmas for people of Jammu and Kashmir valley, if the report of leading geologists of Jammu and Kashmir is to be believed.
"The Jammu-Srinagar national highway-the only road link connecting the Valley with rest of India-may get permanently closed for at least one year or even more. There is a fear that a stretch 300 meters at 168 kms point at Panthial may get completely washed away. These are the important recommendations of a team of geologists led by Professor Dr GM Bhat and comprising of Dr Sandeep Pandita and Dr Yudhvir Singh who visited the spot, last Sunday.
"And if it happens then it would be impossible to reconstruct the same stretch at same place," confirmed sources.
Official sources informed that "the recommendations which require an urgent attention have been delivered to concerned Border Road Organization (BRO) to forward the same to top authorities at New Delhi for launching an immediate damage control exercise at that vulnerable stretch."
"Surprisingly, the similar recommendations were forwarded to Government of India, a year ago, but the same got approved, 10 days back," revealed official sources adding that "had the suggestions/recommendations got approval, last year, the situation may not have worsened."
"The situation is very grave. The entire Panthial hillock has been disturbed as horizontal and vertical cracks have been noticed in it. Further triggering of fresh landslides or shooting stones may lead to complete wash of 300 meter stretch," pointed out Professor Dr GM Bhat while speaking to Hindustan Times.
Bhat is heading the team of geologists, which is working on a project ‘Geo-Technical Investigation, Instrumentation and Monitoring of Panthial and Peera’ as the long-term measure. "The project sponsored by the Department of Science and Technology, Government of India will be completed in three years at an estimated cost of Rs 45 lakhs," he said.
Replying to a query, Professor Dr GM Bhat said that "our prime concern is that to ensure vehicular traffic movement at national highway and for that we have suggested to work manually wherever there is need to remove the landslides and don’t use the machines."
"Soon we will fix instruments to note the direction of movement and besides our visit at the spot twice a week, Beacon personnel would stay there permanently for observation," senior geologist said.
E-mail Zorawar Singh Jamwal: zorawarjamwal123@rediffmail