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The Doda-Dessa Kapran road is a dream project for Chenab Valley
The Doda-Dessa Kapran road is a distant dream for the people living in entire Chenab Valley that can not only connect District Doda with Kashmir Valley and make development in remote areas but can also provide an alternate link between Jammu and Srinagar via Bani-Besoli to Doda-Dessa Kappran.

BHATTA VILLAGERS in District Doda, every week, trek the Baribal mountain atop along with their mules to reach Kapran town in south Kashmir for purchase of commodities and it is of course logical, since getting the same commodities from Doda town takes more time, funds and efforts. They have to get up early in the morning to reach Kapran along with their mules, so that they can return home with their commodities the next day.

Bhatta is the last village of Doda district on the illusive Doda-Dessa Kapran road, and if constructed, will reform connectivity between the two Kashmiri speaking areas. The Dessa-Kapran road is still a distant dream for this hilly district. The road is  feasible for a lot of reasons and it can also benefit the area in a number of ways.

In 2011, Dessa farmers transported their entire walnut product to Kashmir through this route. “They simply loaded the walnut crop on horses and mules and unloaded them on the other side in Kapran and got through without any trouble,” says Farooq Ahmed, a resident of village Bhatta. He further added that the last motor-able point on Dessa road is Bimna and experts say that the road would be safer than the other routes to Doda. “This road is one of the safest routes with no shooting stones and landslides.” Further more he added, “If connected by a tunnel, it will be an all weather road.”

The road will short the distance between Doda and Srinagar to 140 kms from the current 229 kms through Jawahar Tunnel. In fact, Doda will be just 45 kms from Kashmir valley’s southern end. The road can be a herald of development for thousands of inhabitants of Dessa region. The road named Doda-Desa-Kapran is reflected in state plan since 1978 but invisible forces always obstructed its  Experts add that the road will escort a new era of development for the neglected regions of both District Doda and Kashmir. One of the biggest problems in Doda is the increased number of road accidents that take a heavy toll every year. Hundreds have been killed in road accidents in the recent past. Overloading in public transport, narrow and sharp curves on mutilated roads are the main reasons for increased accidents. Doda along with Kishtwar District gets lowest funds for road construction.

“We need emergency allocation of funds along with a separate Chief Engineer stationed in Doda, who could oversee its execution at a faster rate; otherwise many people will continue to die due to road accidents here”, commented one of the speaker. People in Doda accuses Jammu based administration for turning  blind eye to their woes, as most of the bureaucrats never care about the ground situation of the mountainous regions of this area.

Doda Dessa-kapran road can reduce number of accidents and can become a lifeline for the district. As the road will have to be built according to the highway standards, the chances of accidents will further decrease. This road traverses Doda district, touching most of the habitats, which otherwise are connected with narrow precarious roads. The road will also open up a number of unexplored tourist spots in the Dessa area. Residents say, that there are beautiful and vast meadows high up in the mountains of Doda that can be made accessible by this road. “One cannot describe the beauty of these meadows in words, it has to be seen to be believed,” says Abrahim of Dessa. “You cannot find such a spectacular spot any where in State.”  Some of the meadows are Chandrni, Danna Dahar, Marg Dahar, Saiba Wali Marg, Draman, Chaba, and Chandi. Each one has its uniqueness and beauty. Chaba has pine trees around grassland. Chandi has a special viewpoint, where from one can see Kishtwar, Braritop, Patnitop and Bhaderwah. Draman has an area equivalent to entire Doda town. All these places have remained out of sight for want of the construction of Doda-Dessa-Kapran road.

The road also traverses a beautiful landscape along the Deshnad stream up to Mandole in Doda, where the stream joins Chenab River. Ironically, the construction of Doda-Dessa-Kapran road is always a part of the state plan, but the funds allocation shows zero figures. A number of surveys have also been conducted on the feasibility of this road by Roads and Buildings Department and Beacon, but the construction never proceeded beyond paper work. While the road will shorten the distance to Srinagar, it can also be connected with Bani–Besoli and Sudhmadev route with Jammu, thus providing an alternate route to Jammu-Srinagar Highway.

The altitude of Sahnikund pass on this road is lower than Patnitop. The route will connect Srinagar with Jammu via Doda by a shorter, safer and an all weather road. The need for this road has also been increased due to the sinking of a larger portion of Doda-Batote road. After the commissioning of Baghlihar dam and subsequent rise of water in Chenab, a large portion of this only connecting road has been rendered unfeasible. The authorities are building the alternate road and people have to wait for hours daily due to inconvenience caused by the never ending construction. “The government is making us hostage to this dangerous road,” says a local resident.

They are spending crore of rupees on the realignment and upkeep of this unreliable road, but they wouldn’t part a smaller portion of it for Dessa road.” People of Bhatta also express their apprehension about the sincerity of administration. “30 years have passed and still there is no road. Every time a file is created for construction of this road, with no result,” says Rajesh. “It needs political will at highest level to materialize this dream.” But every time plan on papers, schemes on Boards and hope for people, and nothings else.

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