Road Development: Jammu & Kashmir And The Borders

Road Development: Jammu & Kashmir And The Borders

India has stepped up its road development in J&K and the adjoining borders in the recent years, enhancing the business prospects in the region as well as the border security amidst recent border clashes with China.

Crux of the Matter

Delhi-Jammu Highway
The development of the Katra- Delhi Express Road Corridor was recently initiated, which is expected to be completed by 2023. The Road Corridor would pass through Kathua, Jammu Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, etc, with the estimated cost of the project being ₹35,000 crores.

The travel time between Delhi and Jammu is expected to be 6 hours after the completion as compared to 9.5-10 hours taken today, and more travellers are expected to go by roads to holy places like Vaishno Devi, Amritsar, etc. Besides the Road Corridor, the plan to widen the National Highway between Pathankot and Jammu from 4-lane to 6-lane was also initiated recently.

Both these measures are cited as “revolutionary” in bringing investment to the region.

Atal Rohtang Tunnel
Atal Rohtang Tunnel, an 8.8 km long tunnel connecting Manali and Keylong is expected to be inaugurated in September 2020. The tunnel, named after former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, would become the longest highway tunnel in the world above an elevation of 10,000 feet, with the tunnel being constructed at an elevation of 10,171 feet. The tunnel is expected to “become the strategic route for supplies and logistics to the Indian Defence Forces deployed in Ladakh.”

Road Development In J&K

  • 181 road works of length 1,292 km have been completed during the last one year in Jammu & Kashmir. 11 bridges have also been completed in the same period. The total expenditure of the 181 road works and 11 bridges has been ₹715 crores.
  • 1858 roads of length 11,517 km and 84 bridges have been completed in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir till July 2020.
  • 96 roads of length 699 km and 2 bridges have been completed till July 2020 in Ladakh.
  • Works in both the UTs have been done under the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana.
  • Notably, the Link Road from T03 to Stok (a village in Leh) was constructed “using plastic waste for the first time in the entire Leh district”.

Recent Major Tunnels

  • Dr. Shyama Prasad Mukherjee tunnel (former: Chenani-Nashri tunnel)
    The tunnel is the longest road tunnel in India with a length of 9.28 km, and has reduced the distance between Jammu and Srinagar by 30 km. The cost of the tunnel development was around ₹3,720 crore.
  • Zojila Tunnel
    The work for the Zojila tunnel is expected to start in 2020. Located on the Srinagar-Leh National Highway, the Zojila pass is situated at an altitude of 11,578 feet. The tunnel is expected to become the longest tunnel in India after completion with a length of 14.15 km, and would reduce the driving time from 3.5 hours to 15 mins.

Infrastructure Development On Borders

  • Expenditure of the Indian Government on roads along the China border has increased from ₹4,600 crores in 2016 to ₹11,800 crores in 2020. In comparison, the expenditure increased only from ₹3,300 crores in 2008 to ₹4,600 crores in 2016.
  • Tunnels: 1 tunnel was completed in the 2008-14 period, while 6 tunnels have been completed in the 2014-20 period.
  • The Road surfacing rate has increased from 170 km/year (2008-17) to 380 km/year (2017-20).
  • 3,610 km of roads were completed in the 2008-14 period, which increased to 4,764 km in the 2014-20 period.

  • Khardung La is a mountain pass in the Leh district of Ladakh. It is the world’s highest motorable pass.
  • The Golden Quadrilateral (GQ) at 5,846 kilometres, is the largest highway project in India and the fifth-longest in the world. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee laid the foundation stone for the project on 6 January 1999.
  • Smart highway and smart road are terms for a number of different ways technologies are incorporated into roads, for improving the operation of connected and autonomous vehicles (CAVs), for traffic lights and street lighting, and for monitoring the condition of the road,  etc. The Smart Highway concept developed by Studio Roosegaarde and the infrastructure management group Heijmans in the Netherlands incorporated photo-luminescent paint for road markings, which absorb light during the day then glow for up to 10 hours.

Article 370: 1 Year Of Abrogation

Article 370: 1 Year Of Abrogation

With the abrogation of article 370 in Jammu & Kashmir completing first anniversary on 5 August, let us take a look at its history and the impact of its removal.

Crux of the Matter

History Of Article 370

  • 1808: Jammu won by the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh.
  • 1819: Kashmir was added to the Sikh territory.
  • 1822: Ranjit Singh appointed General Gulab Singh as the “Raja of Jammu”.
  • 1846: After the Anglo-Sikh war, Britain grants Gulab Singh the rule of J&K in exchange for a sum of ₹75 lakh. The Dogra dynasty is established.
  • October 1947: Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession (IoA) in favour of India after Pakistani armed men attack the state. Initially granted the Indian Parliament the “power to legislate in respect of J&K only on the matters of defence, external affairs, and communications”.
  • 1948: India and Pakistan go to the United Nations over the occupation of Kashmir, and Sheikh Abdullah appointed the Prime Minister of J&K in March.
  • 1950: The Constitution of India is formed, containing Article 370 under the heading of ‘Temporary, Transitional and Special Provisions’ to provide special status to J&K. Except “defence, foreign affairs, finance, and communications”, the Centre required approval of the state government to implement any laws. The Constitution also contained Article 35A which allowed J&K to define “permanent residents” and provide “special rights and privileges” to them.
  • 1956: J&K implements its own constitution.
  • 1965: The title of the Prime Minister of J&K is changed to Chief Minister. Sheikh Abdullah became the CM with Congress support, but removed and reinstated several times, with Central rule being imposed at times.
  • 1980s-90s: Increase in activities of separatist militants. The targeted killing of Kashmiri Pandits forces them to flee the state.
  • 2019: Indian govt “abrogated” Article 370 using provisions of Article 370 to the point of making it defunct – J&K to be treated as any other state/UT. The state was turned into 2 UTs – J&K a UT with legislature, and Ladakh without legislature.

Impact Of Removal

  • People from all over India would now be able to purchase property in the state and settle there (under certain conditions).
  • Non-permanent residents of the state are now eligible to apply for government jobs in the state.
  • J&K assembly would have to comply with the national laws, just like all other Indian states.
  • End of discrimination against women concerning property. Earlier, a woman from the state would lose her property rights if she married a person from outside the state.
  • Prohibition of Child Marriage Act now applicable in the state.
  • Increase in democratic functioning: Block development polls occurred in Oct, 2019 for the first time in J&K with a 98.3% voter turnout.
  • Private Universities are expected to open in the state for the first time, and industrialization would now be possible in the state.

Case Of Valmikis
Valmikis belonging to the Scheduled Caste (SC) from Punjab were brought for sanitation work in the state in 1957. However, they were not provided the ‘permanent residency’. Consequently, they had no right to vote in the state elections, and could not avail reservation benefits as the state did not provide their SC certificates. The absence of certificate also rendered them ineligible for promotions as only the post of ‘safai karamcharis’ was available to them. The plight of the children of the Valmiki community was exacerbated as they were eligible to study only up to graduation in the state, and were consequently eligible only for the position of a sweeper.

The removal of Articles 370 and 35A ended all the mentioned discriminations faced by the Valmiki and other non-permanent resident communities in J&K.

  • Naya Kashmir was the name given to the memorandum by Sheikh Abdullah, the leader of Kashmir’s leading political party in 1944. It was the outline of a plan to convert the Jammu and Kashmir state from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional democracy.
  • Our Moon has Blood Clots: The Exodus of the Kashmiri Pandits is a 2013 memoir by Indian author Rahul Pandita about the exodus of Kashmiri Hindus in the late 1989 and early 1990.
  • Pheran is the traditional outfit for both males and females in Kashmir. The pheran consists of two gowns, one over the other. According to some sources, the pheran was introduced by Mughal emperor Akbar when he conquered the valley in 1586.


Pulwama Redux Prevented By Indian Forces

  • Wanted terrorist Riyaz Naikoo was among the three militants killed in the intensified operations of the Indian security forces in south Kashmir early this week. The hiding terrorists were cornered in Pulwama’s Beigpora village when the operation was launched.
  • According to the 2011 census Pulwama district has a population of 560,440. This gives it a ranking of 537th in India (out of a total of 640). The literacy rate of the district is 63.54%.
  • In 1831’s Battle of Balakot, Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s army defeated Syed Ahmad Barelvi and his army. After 2019 Pulwama attacks, a JeM terrorist training camp in Balakot was bombed out by India warplanes

IMD Now Giving Weather Forecasts For PoK and GB

Clearly stating the stance on Pakistan’s aggressive moves of recent past of usurping Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), India began listing Gilgit-Baltistan region and Muzaffarabad, both of which Pakistan claims as independent territory and in PoK, in the regional weather report published by the IMD.

Crux of the Matter

What’s the Case?
Since the bifurcation of J&K, IMD has started forecasting regions under Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Previously these areas weren’t covered in the regional forecast of Northwest India. After Pakistan’s decision to conduct elections in Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad, India started forecasting these regions explicitly in its regional bulletin
IMD has replaced Jammu & Kashmir subdivision with “Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Muzaffarabad”.

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has been issuing weather bulletin for entire Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh area. We are mentioning Gilgit-Baltistan, Muzaffarabad in the bulletin as they are the parts of India.

Mrutyunjoy Mohapatra, Director General, IMD

This change in name is a diplomatic response to Pakistan Supreme Court’s decision to allow the federal government to hold elections in Gilgit-Baltistan. Indirectly India is indicating that PoK belongs to India.

Why Important?
Pakistan considers Gilgit-Baltistan and Muzaffarabad as a separate territory. Elections will help Pakistan make territorial claims. India protested and asked Pakistan to vacate PoK. Google Maps has now stopped showing the LoC and shows the entire Jammu & Kashmir as part of India. India has been making its stance clear to counter the aggressive Pakistani usurpation of PoK.

  • The India Meteorological Department (IMD) is an agency of the Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It is the principal organization responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting, and seismology. It has the responsibility for forecasting, naming, and distribution of warnings for tropical cyclones in the Northern Indian Ocean region. In the last week of April 2020, IMD released names for 169 tropical cyclones that are likely to emerge over the north Indian Ocean.
  • Polo is one of the most famous sports in Gilgit – Baltistan. Almost every bigger valley has a polo ground. At an elevation of 12,200 ft, Shandur top is the world’s highest Polo ground and is also called “Roof of the world”. The English word Polo has Balti origin – the language spoken in Gilgit – Baltistan region.
  • Muzaffarabad is the capital of the PoK territory of Azad Kashmir (as referred by Pakistan). Here is the flag of Azad Kashmir adopted on 24 September 1975 via the Azad Jammu and Kashmir State Flag Ordinance, passed by founding President Sardar Muhammad Ibrahim Khan.

Army Neutralises Terrorists As Pak Ramps Up Terrorism During Pandemic

In the year 2020, there has been continuous meddling from Pakistan-backed terror groups in J&K and along the LoC. Apart from killing 50 terrorists in 2020, of which 18 were during the lockdown, Indian Army and other security forces have been actively clearing militant posts across LoC. In what seems to be an ongoing operation, Indian forces are on high alert.

Crux of the Matter

2nd May – Handwara
Encounter broke out between Indian soldiers and terrorists at Handwara, J&K – it lasted 12 hours. 5 Indian soldiers were martyred and 2 terrorists killed. One of the terrorists was a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) leader, Haider. In the Changimulla region, civilians were taken hostage by these terrorists. They were rescued by the Security Forces.

4th May – Kupwara
A CRPF battalion was attacked by militants in the Kupwara region of J&K. 3 CRPF men martyred and a dead body of a 14-year old also found. Militants manage to escape. Army is unsure of militants’ link to Handwara terrorists.

6th May – Pulwama
Security forces got intel of top Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) commander Riyaaz Naikoo being in Pulwama. He was visiting his parents. Since the evening of 5th May, the entire area was cordoned off and search operation was carried out. Riyaz found in a bunker on the early morning of Wednesday. Security personnel opened fire on Riyaz and his aide, both of whom fired back. The forces blew off the house he was trapped in and successfully neutralized him. Internet and SMS services were temporarily suspended to avoid clashes.

Timeline: Terror Strikes in 2020

January1st – Breach at LoC near Rajouri, 3 militants and 2 Indian Army personnel died

25th – 3 terrorists including JeM leader Qari Yasir and 2 Indian soldiers killed
February9th – Army kills 3 militants at LoC near Poonch and attacks terror launch pads near LoC in Nakyal village of PoK
March4th – MoS for Defence, Shripad Naik informs there were 646 ceasefire violations between 1 Jan – 23 Feb at International Border and Line of Control

31st – Forces bust militant bunker along LoC and recover arms and ammunition in large numbers
April5th – 5 LeT terrorists trying to infiltrate through LoC near Keran killed; 4 Indian soldiers martyred; major infiltration avoided

9th – JeM commander Sajad Nawab Dar killed

22nd – Massive shelling along LoC and on Indian posts from Pak’s side; J&K DGP Dilbag accuses Pak for disrupting peace in the valley during the Coronavirus pandemic
  • Mohammed bin Awad bin Laden, father of Osama Bin Laden, was a multi-millionaire Saudi businessman working primarily in the construction industry. He founded what is today the Saudi Binladin Group and became the wealthiest non-royal Saudi, establishing the wealth and prestige of the Bin Laden family.
  • CRPF is considered the largest paramilitary force in India. It has over 3 lakh personnel in 246 battalions. It reports to the Ministry of Home Affairs.
  • The terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” originated during the French Revolution of the late 18th century but gained mainstream popularity in the 1970s during the conflicts of Northern Ireland, the Basque Country, and Palestine.