SRINAGAR: The High Court on Friday snubbed the Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) for submitting a ‘vague report’ regarding construct of Rajbagh bridge. The court asked the executing agency to submit a detailed report with relevant diagrams on the construction of the bridge on river Jhelum opposite Presentation Convent School at Rajbagh.
The division bech of chief justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey asked the advocate general to submit a technical report rather than a vague report and observed that a whopping amount of Rs 9 crore has been spent on the project but the government is still vague about the final shape and position of the bridge.
The court asked the agency to clarify whether it was constructing a motorable bridge, a pedestrian bridge or an underwater tunnel. On the terse remark, the state counsel informed that the agency was constructing a bridge subject to no-objection certificate given by other departments.
The remarks were made shortly after the suo moto Public Interest Litigation was taken up by the division bench. Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganie submitted a sketch before the court to insist that increasing the height of the bridge at its original place was not possible. “It will deface the entire city,” Ganai remarked.
After listening to Ganai’s plea, the court directed the state government to come up with a survey based detailed report on next date of hearing.
Last month, the High Court had ordered the state government to construct skewed and not the footbridge it sought to build by changing the original plan formulated in 1981. The government was allowed to approach the court for any 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 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 October 13, 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”.