Departments tussle over responsibility
SHOPIAN: The widening on the 23-kilometer Shopian-Litter road taken up early this year has run into problems, because of the mismanagement of the project.
Local residents said that Pradhan Mantri Grameen Sadak Yogana (PMGSY) authorities, took up the construction without shifting the utilities, like water supply pipes, causing damage to water pipes as well as to the road construction.
Residents also alleged that the contractors were not following the guidelines of the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department.
A number of villages in the area are facing water crises as water supply pipelines running underneath the road were damaged by the construction.
“We brought the issue of pipelines running beneath the road to the local member of legislative assembly that there would be failure of road if the pipelines are not removed from under the road but no action was taken,” said Suhail Ahmad Hurrah, a local resident.
Experts say the laying of water pipes beneath the road was set to be a failure, as they were prone to break ups, and fixing of any clogs or damage to pipes results in damage to the road.
Just before the road widening was taken up, electricity transmission lines to the area from Pinjora grid station were also installed along the road.
“These power lines were laid right when the construction of road was started. They didn’t take stock that they have to remove these poles which not only costs more money but also leads the people to suffer both in terms of bad roads and electricity breakdowns,” Sarfaraz Ahmad Bhat, a resident of Votterpora village told said. The unsteady construction work has only added to the problems to the people.
Shakeel Ahmad, a resident of Turkwangam village said that it takes them one and a half hour to reach Shopian because the road was bumpy and dotted with potholes. Worse, he said, pipes have been laid on canals, where there was need of bridges.
The inhabitants also complain that the blowing dust has caused respiratory diseases to the people and commuters.
Residents said the work on the road should be monitored by independent agencies.
Executive Engineer Public Health and Engineering, Ghulam Ahmed Beig told Kashmir Reader that shifting of utilities, including pipelines, electricity poles and canals, was an important provision for any road construction.
“Unfortunately the PMGSY authorities violated that provision and started work on road. When they damaged our pipelines at several places we stopped their work and reported to the police,” Beig said.
He added that the then deputy commissioner, Manzoor Ahmad Qadri, intervened and set up a team for the estimation of damage and shifting of pipelines.
The estimation committee rejected the estimate provided by PHE and provided its own estimate of damages at Rs 40 lacs, he said.
The PMGSY was asked to submit the amount to the PHE department, before resuming the work on the road, but Beig said, till date they have not received the money.
He said they have taken up the issue with Divisional Commissioner as well.
Executive Engineer PMGSY Shopian, Nazir Ahmad Banday, told Kashmir Reader that they will be looking into the issues.
“We will look into this matters where there road has not been widened as per provision. We will recheck if there was need of bridge anywhere where we have installed pipes for canals,” Banday said.
He added that their department will pay the PHE the damage costs for pipelines.
He, however, said that an estimate of shifting pipelines provided by PHE at Rs 2.86 crores was not negotiable according to PMGSY norms.