Amid tourism boom, Kashmir’s border residents hope uninterrupted connectivity this winter

Amid tourism boom, Kashmir’s border residents hope uninterrupted connectivity this winter

‘We would remain cut-off for months together, tourism activities must continue without halt’

Kashmir’s border residents have pinned hopes on the thriving tourism this winter stating that they hope to stay connected in the upcoming harsh winter days given the huge winter tourism potential of border areas.

As per the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), as the clamour for stocking of essential services in border areas grows louder, there is an increasing demand for necessities such as helicopter services for students appearing for exams, people requiring medical attention, and others, especially when road connectivity is disrupted by heavy snowfall.

While undoubtedly these places are a tourist heaven in the summer, locals of Gurez, Tangdhar, Karnah and Tulail hope that they stay connected amid thriving tourism in winters this season.

“During heavy snowfall, winter becomes an intensely chilling ordeal for the residents of the border areas and at such times, it becomes challenging for others to comprehend the magnitude of our struggles,” the residents said.

While authorities may make efforts to keep these routes accessible, the increasing snowfall is likely to result in complete closures throughout the winter, leaving places such as Gurez, Tanghdar, Karnah, and Tulail entirely isolated.

Protesting for the past 30 years, the residents of Karnah are steadfast in their demand for the construction of a tunnel at the Sadhna Pass on the Kupwara-Tangdhar road, which has become perilous over time, often deemed a 'death trap.' They express their annual yearning for improved road connectivity during the winter season.

Every winter, the stretches, including Gurez and Karnah, witness closures due to heavy snowfall, causing increasing concern for the thousands of people residing in these areas with each passing day.

“When the roads close due to snowfall, the immediate concern is how to manage if someone falls ill; it's easy to talk about, but the actual pain we endure is incomprehensible,” said Gulam Ahmad, a local of Karnah, while highlighting the hardships faced in these situations.

Manzoor Ahmad, another resident of Gurez, urges the administration to take into account the challenges experienced by the people last winter and actively address them to provide relief.

He said that there is a need for an examination of the health sector and advocates for an assessment of staffing shortages and the prompt fulfilment of vacant positions. He also said that the importance of inspecting generator sets to ensure uninterrupted electricity supply during the upcoming winter is must.

“We shouldn't have to long for basic healthcare and other facilities here during heavy snowfall; the government should proactively address the issues of border residents beforehand,” said Mohammad Ayaz, another resident of Tulail.

Meanwhile, a senior official stated that the government is actively addressing essential services and other facilities for border residents. During heavy snowfall in these areas, road clearance operations will be expedited. “However, in cases of road closures, helicopter services are promptly deployed,” he said, adding that the main roads will be promptly cleared off the snow to ensure tourism remains abuzz in border areas

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