Opening of second trans-Kashmir road delayed (INDIA)
Jammu: The opening of the Poonch-Rawalakote route connecting the two parts of Kashmir south of the Pir Panjal mountain range has been delayed because Pakistan has not completed removing mines in the portion of the road on its side, according to official sources.
Work on de-mining and repairing the road was supposed to have been completed by March 31, and it was to be thrown open in the first week of April.
In the given situation, no new deadline can be announced for the opening of this route, the second between the divided parts of Kashmir after the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad road that was opened in April 2005.
"The whole problem is that the Pakistani side has not cleared the landmines along the Line of Control (LoC) or paved the road on its side. This is causing the delay," explained an official here.
Indian authorities are carrying on work to ensure the opening of the road at the earliest.
Despite rains and other problems, the Indian side has almost completed its task and set up immigration and customs points, the official said.
The Pakistan side, however, is bereft of such infrastructure, he pointed out.
A crossing point at the LoC on the Poonch-Rawalakote route was opened in November to facilitate the transportation of relief goods for victims of the Oct 8, 2005, quake, and for the crossing of people on foot from either side of Kashmir.
But a bus service could not be run on the route in the absence of a proper road.
The Poonch-Rawalakote road was closed after Pakistan-backed tribals invaded Jammu and Kashmir in 1947. It has great relevance to the people living south of the Pir Panjal in Jammu and Kashmir, as there are at least 25,000 families with relatives across the LoC.
India and Pakistan agreed to open routes connecting the two parts of Kashmir as part of confidence-building measures initiated under their composite dialogue process.
Von: http://www.newkerala.com By Binoo Joshi