Sopore: The collapse of a historic bridge at Baramulla on Tuesday has made the residents of this north Kashmir town apprehensive about the stability of the old Chankhan Bridge.
Built about 60 years ago, the bridge is in a bad shape as it is believed to have outlived its life span.
The middle part of the bridge has become defaced. The bridge developed cracks in 1985 and became defaced about and 15 years ago.
Yet, it is being used by pedestrians and the two-wheelers, with the authorities not showing any concern.
Habibullah Kaboo, 85, a resident of Ashpeer Mohalla situated close to the bridge, worked as a labourer during the construction of this bridge. And he claims that the bridge was meant to be used for just 40 years.
“I remember very clearly that the engineer who built this bridge was named Gajindar. He was Sikh and it the construction was undertaken during the tenure of Bakshi Ghulam Mohammad.
“When the bridge was inaugurated by Bakshi’s successor Sadiq Mohammad, Gajindar announced that this bridge will live for 40 years,” he said.
The bridge that collapsed in Baramulla on Tuesday was built by the same engineer.
“When I heard the news about the collapse of the bridge, I sensed that our old bridge may be the next. The authorities should destroy this bridge before it proves dangerous for the people. They shall, at least, completely block it so that no pedestrian or biker uses it in future,” Habibullah concluded.
Ghulam Mohiuddin, also a resident of Sopore, crosses the bridge twice a day. He said: “I sometimes fear that this might collapse while I am crossing it”.
The authorities are, however, not taking responsibility for the maintenance of the bridge.
Executive officer of R&B Sopore Division told Kashmir Reader that maintenance of the bridge was not his department’s job.
“We only construct the bridges that connect bypasses. We have no records related to this bridge,” he told Kashmir Reader, adding that Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation Limited (JKPCC) was responsible for the bridge.
However, deputy general manager of JKPCC, Baramulla, Showkat Ahmad, also said that they didn’t have any information about the bridge.
“How can we provide you any information about the bridge that might actually be older than our department established in 1965?” he asked, and shifted the responsibility to the R&B department.