Locals say the bridge is cursed: after its completion, there will be a war in Kashmir
Sopore: The Sopore Bypass bridge, which took 23 years for its construction and was inaugurated by the late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on August 18, 2015, has developed big cracks right in its middle. Concerns are if the bridge is still usable; people are fearing for their lives driving on it.
Just six months after its inauguration, the bridge was closed — from February 27 to March 10 — for the conduct of a “road test”, which raised many doubts. According to basic procedure, the road test should have been done before the bridge was opened for traffic; but in the case of this bridge, it wasn’t so.
Last year, when Kashmir Reader did a story on the sudden closure of the bypass bridge, authorities said that that some tests needed to be done, but the beacon department, responsible for maintenance of the bridge, said that the bridge was opened without conducting mandatory tests because it had already missed many deadlines and there was political pressure to open it quickly. “That is why we opened the bridge before its road test,” the chief engineer of the beacon department told Reader.
The Sopore bypass bridge was mired in controversy even during its construction. It is little surprise that 18 months after its inauguration, it remains suspicious in the eyes of locals, some of whom say the bridge is cursed.
The late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had in his speech at the inauguration of the bridge called it the first pillar of development laid by his coalition PDP-BJP government
Ghulam Ahmad Mir, who lives near the bypass bridge, told Kashmir Reader that the bridge will never be a success as the Sheikh-ul-Alam has said that after completion of this bridge, there will be a war in Kashmir.
Truck driver Mushtaq Ahmad expressed another, more valid concern. “We are afraid while crossing this bridge as it has developed very big cracks in the middle,” he said, and added, “Just to showcase their development credentials, the PDP-BJP government inaugurated this bridge without having it checked properly. They have risked the lives of thousands with their cheap political stunt.”
When contacted, AIEE officer of the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department, Mohd Shafi, said that the Sopore bypass bridge comes under the jurisdiction of the beacon department. “But, on hearing news about cracks in the bypass bridge, I along with SDM Sopore and some beacon department officers visited the spot. The beacon authorities assured us of repair of the cracks within days,” the officer said.
The cracks have not been repaired but are instead growing. Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Sopore, Bashir Ahmad Bhat, told Kashmir Reader that he had contacted the beacon authorities and they had assured of repairing the cracks after the weather improves.
When contacted, the beacon department’s chief engineer, Brigadier AK Das, said that as soon as the rains stop, the repairs will begin.
Asked why the bridge had developed cracks in just a few months, Brigadier Das said, “Generally, we make sure that every test has been done, but in this case we had missed so many deadlines and the pressure from higher authorities made us open this bridge without proper check-ups. Maybe this is the reason of the cracks in the bridge.”