Srinagar: Dearth of labour and freezing temperature has delayed the opening of Phase-I of Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh flyover, the date for which was set on December 31. The Alochi Bagh-Rambagh stretch, Phase-I of the flyover, is unlikely to be thrown open for vehicular movement for at least the next one month, officials told Kashmir Reader.
The Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA), which is building the flyover, had earlier said that Phase-I of the flyover was in the testing stage and would be thrown open for traffic from December 31. ERA Director Satish Razdan told Kashmir Reader that the winter cold and shortfall of able workforce has prevented this from happening.
“Though the Phase-I is in its final stage, but still we don’t want to take risks by hurriedly throwing it open. A few tests conducted recently on the stretch have been sent outside the state for analysis, as they can’t be done here. We are waiting for the results and, in the meantime, we are trying to finish other pending works,” Razdan said.
The flyover, constructed over a stretch of 1.5 km, is divided into the Alochi Bagh-Rambagh stretch, called Phase-I, and Jahangir Chowk to Alochi Bagh referred as Phase-II. The project has missed more than five deadlines. The September 2014 floods, then the dearth of labourers due to the public uprising in 2016 are believed to be the reasons behind the delay.
On Wednesday, on a trial basis, ERA let its more than 13 light and heavy motor vehicles to pass through the express-way, as the flyover is also referred to. As per Razdan, all the vehicles successfully crossed the Phase-I Alochi Bagh-Rambagh stretch.
“We could have opened the flyover for traffic (on December 31), but we didn’t want to take risks. For us, lives matter more than meeting deadlines, though we accept there has been too much delay in the completion. But then, there were some genuine reasons like the (September) floods and the unrest,” Razdan said.
He said that the ERA will try to finish all the pre-requisites, like stressing test, installation of crash-barriers, and other minor works in January, and will try to open Phase-I from mid-February.
“We believe that from mid-February traffic will run on the flyover, subject to the situation and weather conditions. Because of low temperature, a slab takes extra days to get strengthened. Besides, non-local labourers are not able to bear the harsh weather here,” Razdan said, adding that the black-topping of the road is impossible till the winter ends; it may be done either in April or in May, he said.
The “express-way”, the foundation of which was laid by former chief minister Omar Abdullah, is funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at an estimated cost of Rs 359 crore. It is said to be the longest flyover in entire Jammu & Kashmir.
Under construction for several years, the project has badly hit traffic as well as pedestrian moment in uptown Srinagar. “The entire project is likely to be completed in June this year,” Razdan said.