SRINAGAR: Hundreds of commuters risk their lives while crossing the shaky Bailey bridge connecting Rawalpora area in uptown Srinagar with Bash-e-Mehtab. The bridge over Doodh Ganga stream titled and damaged during the September 2014 floods awaits repairs but the authorities have perpetually delayed fixing it.
According to the locals, the commuters often risk their lives while crossing the bridge as there have been many incidents when accidents were likely to occur. With the approaching winter season, the risk factor has also increased.
Abdul Majid, who lives across the bridge, says the non-serious approach of the authorities has resulted in several mishaps in the past two years.
“A biker fell into the channel just two three months ago. He was fortunately saved from drowning by the passers-by,” Majid said adding that several vehicles plunged into the river in the past as well.
He said he himself escaped a deadly mishap while he was carrying a baby in his arms.
“I was walking with my niece in my lap. I fell down with a bang and hurt my arm. We could have fallen into the river,” Majid said.
The bridge was declared unsafe three years ago by the authorities but that did not desist the authorities to divert traffic on this fallible and faulty bridge. The vital bridge connects the two sides of the canal and is the shortest distance between several populated localities.
The authorities had started work on the construction of an alternative bridge in 2015 but the work was stopped later. Farooq Ahmad, a local contractor who undertook the work, said the project was sanctioned under the State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF). “An amount of around Rs 75 lakh was released for the construction of the new bridge under the SDRF,” Farooq said.
“First the plan was to construct a single lane bridge beside the damaged Bailey bridge, but the higher authorities changed their decision and I was told to construct a double lane bridge,” he added.
“The double-laning of the bridge would automatically double the cost.” The initial phase to lay the foundation and construct the base of the bridge was completed in just three months, Farooq said. Mufti Imran, Executive Engineer R&B Division Chadoora said that the existing bridge has been declared unsafe and the people were using it at their own risk. He said the work had been stopped due to paucity of funds. “We have got the money for the construction of the bridge now.
The work has resumed and we expect to complete it within nine months,” he said.