Kishtwar district of Jammu is all set to get an economic as well as tourism boost as it connects with Kashmir through an all-weather road stretch after years of negligence, mainly due to the 20-year-long militancy period.
In a major move to bring south Kashmir's Anantnag district closer to Jammu region’s Kishtwar, chief minister Omar Abdullah on Wednesday inaugurated five bridges on the Anantnag-Simthen-Kishtwar road.
“This road will serve as an alternate route to the hilly district of Kishtwar and open up cut-off areas for growth and development,” said Omar.
The Anantnag-Kishtwar road, which is around 97 km long, was a fair weather road in the past. During the Mughal era, a rough road stretch cutting through various steep mountainous passes, would be used to supply rice on mules from south Kashmir to Kishtwar, which is more than 200 km away from Jammu city.
In 1990s, the entire stretch was taken over by militants, with many training camps operating there in upper areas, and was also to cross over into the Jammu region.
With waning militancy, many tourist spots like Simthan Top are coming up on the way.
“Inter-district road connectivity and alternate routes to supplement transportation, especially in winter months and rainy seasons, are all the more imperative to reach out to the people in the process of development,” said Abdullah.
The chief minister said that various central government agencies in this sector like National High Authority of India (NHAI), BRO, BEACON, etc have been persuaded to fast track the mega projects.
With Kishtwar coming closer to the valley, the access to markets and healthcare has also come closer to a huge population living in sparse villages of Kishtwar.
“Earlier, we had to travel more than 200 km to reach to Jammu city for specialised treatment and would take one complete day of travel. Now, it’s a matter of six hours to reach to Anantnag,” said Rehman Khan, a resident of Kistwar, now settled in Srinagar.
“We can also be a part of state’s economic boom with new tourist places,” said Khan.
The 5.5 km Singhpor tunnel from Anantnag is further to flip connectivity between the two districts. The Anantnag-Kistwar road is already open for small vehicles during summers.