Mansehra road closed for five months

Published April 24, 2024
Machines remove a section of Surmai glacier encroaching on MNJ Road near Naran in Kaghan Valley on Tuesday. — Photo by Nisar Ahmad Khan
Machines remove a section of Surmai glacier encroaching on MNJ Road near Naran in Kaghan Valley on Tuesday. — Photo by Nisar Ahmad Khan

MANSEHRA: The National Highway Authority has failed to clear snow from the Mansehra-Naran-Jalkhad Road in the last five months, blocking the return of the residents of Kaghan Valley from lower parts of Hazara Division, where they migrated after the first winter snowfall last November.

“This snow-hit [MNJ] road usually reopens early in April, but the NHA hasn’t done it this time around, and therefore, we couldn’t go back to start farming and carry out other activities for livelihood,” Maulana Mohammad Haroon from the Battakundi area in Kaghan Valley told reporters on Tuesday.

Accompanied by other residents of the valley, Mr Haroon lashed at the NHA over “failure to remove snow from the MNJ Road despite receiving huge government funds.”

He said the residents, who went to the lower parts of Hazara Division to prevent a harsh winter, were farmers.

“We desperately want to return to our hamlets to grow peas, potatoes, and seasonal crops,” he said.

Another resident, Abdullah Jan, said the local population mostly depended on agriculture and tourism for a living.

Mohammad Manzoor of Battakundi said agricultural lands in Naran Battal, Darsari Naran, Damduma Naran, Soach Naran, Sohni Battakundi, Battakundi Madan, Donga Barawai, Sarian Jalkhad, and Basil areas awaited cultivation.

SHO of Naran police station Raja Sajid said the police were extending “all-out” support to the NHA to clear the MNJ Road to traffic.

He said the artery, which also linked KP with Gilgit-Baltistan, would take two to three weeks to reopen to attract tourists.

Last month, adviser to the chief minister on tourism Zahid Chanzeb ordered the early reopening of the MNJ Road to promote tourism and assess damages from snowfall.

SCHOOLS’ RECONSTRUCTION: Residents of the Nawazabad area here on Tuesday demanded the early reconstruction of the main local road destroyed by the recent heavy rains.

“The Nawazabad-Mandachucha Road was destroyed by the recent downpour, and therefore, authorities should ensure its reconstruction with further delay,” former election candidate Aftab Shah told reporters.

He said the road that led to the upper parts of Siren Valley would be used by visitors in the upcoming tourist season.

Mr Shah said traveling around in the valley was an uphill task due to the dilapidated condition of the road.

“The government earmarks huge funds to construct roads for tourism promotion but is unfortunately ignoring repairs and maintenance of the existing arteries, which are a great source of revenue for it,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 24th, 2024

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