SRINAGAR: The J&K High Court on Thursday asked government to involve Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) after ruling PDP-BJP alliance raised issue of height to insist its position on new Rajbagh (skewed) bridge on river Jhelum opposite Presentation Convent School at Rajbagh here.
As the hearing in a suo-moto Public Interest Litigation started before a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, the Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganie showed a sketch with a submission that increasing the height of the bridge at its original place was not possible.
Instead the government showed a “green spot” earmarked for construction of a new bridge parallel to the Abdullah Bridge in the vicinity, which has already been stayed by the court.
After hearing Advocate General, the court directed the state government to appoint ERA, presently involved in ongoing construction of flyover, “so that the agency will come up with a stand with regard to the feasibility of increasing the height of the bridge at its original place.” It directed Advocate General to furnish the report from ERA by May 25.
Last month, the High Court ordered government to construct skewed and not the footbridge it sought to build by changing the original plan formulated in 1981 but allowed government room to approach it for clarification.
“Should the (authorities) require any clarification in this regard, they shall be free to seek it from the court on the next date,” the court had said and placed its “dissatisfaction, disapproval and disappointment” on the functioning of the concerned executing agency for sitting over on the “small construction for years.”
“We would wish to forewarn that this sloppy and dithering working of the authorities and officers of the department concerned may roll some heads in coming times,” the court had said.
On 24 October 2013, the high court dismissed a PIL filed by advocate Aftab Hilali Shah and others in which claim was made that the skewed bridge was contrary to public interest and would adversely affect the environment and the security of the children studying in the school.
Interestingly, the government in an affidavit had stated that the project was approved by it on 13.10.1981 for ‘Improvement to Road Communication System in Srinagar City’. Besides the skewed bridge, the project envisaged construction of new roads and improvement, up-gradation and widening of some existing roads.
“In the Master Plan 1971-91 for the city, there was vision for the North-South corridor connecting the southern parts of the city with the core and northern areas and decision was taken by the Government to construct a 2-Lane Abdullah Bridge connecting TRC with Rajbagh. The bridge has only a two lane approach on the Rajbagh side”.
While staying the construction of new bridge parallel to the Abdullah Bridge, the court had made it clear that to the executing agency that no construction shall be carried out by it till further orders.