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J&K on highway traffic ban

Topics covered:

  1. Border areas and their management.

 

J&K on highway traffic ban

 

What to study?

For prelims and mains: the ban-need, effects on civilians and viable alternatives.

 

Context: The Supreme Court has sought responses from the Centre and Jammu and Kashmir on the plea seeking quashing of an order which restricts civilian traffic two days a week on the national highway (NH) stretch from Udhampur to Baramulla for movement of security forces.

Background:

 

The J&K govt. has issued an order banning the movement of civilian traffic on a 270-km stretch (Udhampur-Baramulla) of the Jammu-Srinagar-Uri national highway for two days every week.

 

On Sundays and Wednesdays, the highway would be exclusively used for movement of military convoys. The decision has been taken considering the security concerns that led to temporarily blocking part of the highway. However this has an implication on civilian population.

Why is the highway important?

The Jammu-Srinagar-Uri national highway (NH-1A) runs 370 km. The national highway is not just the only road link that connects Kashmir to the outside world but also the key highway that connects Srinagar with the southern and northern districts of the Valley. The highway passes through five of the 10 districts of the Valley, and highways to at least two more districts branch out from it. The highway, directly and indirectly, impacts a population of over 69 lakh.

Why such decision?

The government has cited the recent suicide bombing of a security forces convoy in Pulwama — which killed 40 CRPF personnel — as the reason for restricting traffic.

Implications of the road-block:

  • It means a virtual lockdown of the Valley for two days every week. According to official figures, over 10,000 vehicles move on the highway from both sides every hour, including around 5,000 light motor vehicles. These include vehicles carrying students, patients, government officials and businessmen.
  • Closing the highway during daytime would mean that most government and private offices, banks, schools and colleges would remain shut on Wednesdays and the movement of people to hospitals would be severely restricted on Wednesdays and Sundays.

What can be done?

Whenever security forces’ vehicles are using the highway, civilian traffic can be halted for various lengths of time.

Sources: the Hindu.