Unsafe bridge at Gantmulla: Are authorities waiting for a tragedy to initiate reconstruction, ask villagers

Unsafe bridge at Gantmulla: Are authorities waiting for a tragedy to initiate reconstruction, ask villagers

Baramulla: A decade before, a team of engineering experts declared a vital bridge connecting a cluster of villages in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district with the main highway between Uri and Baramulla unsafe for vehicular movement. The bridge originally constructed by the Lower Jhelum Hydroelectric Project (LJHP) over a barrage near Gantamulla Colony was, however, neither repaired nor demolished.
Locals say that hundreds of vehicles including loaded trucks, passenger and private vehicles are crossing over the bridge despite with no other alternative available. They said that the lives of people are under constant threat but the authorities seem to be waiting for a tragedy before they initiated reconstruction of the damaged bridge.
Barrage Bridge is connecting dozens of villages of Pehlipora area with Srinagar Muzaffarabad highway. It was constructed five decades ago when government installed five giant iron gates in river Jehlem for the diversion of river Jhelum towards Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Power Project canal. The bridge raised over the iron gates developed cracks a decade ago forcing the engineers to declare it unsafe.
Gulam Jeelani, a local of the area said that the bridge was completely unsafe for any pedestrian and vehicular movement but due to lack of any alternative and callousness of the authorities, the people are continuously using the conduit.
“We demand immediate demolition and reconstruction of the vital bridge,” Jeelani said.
Another resident Abdul Majeed said that the LJHP officials closed the bridge for heavy vehicles two years ago and gave notion that the reconstruction work would be started but later the proposal was shelved for unknown reasons.
No official from the LJHP was available for comment. The local Roads and Buildings department officials said that the bridge was not within their domain.

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