BARAMULLA: Residents of Tehsil Boniyar are up in arms against the government because of the slow pace of work on the bridge that connects them with the other part of the town, due to the lack of which they have had to face huge inconvenience.
Damaged in the 2014 floods, the bridge has been under construction for more than three years. The bridge is a lifeline to many local services, connecting people with the Primary Health Centre (PHC), the police station and more than three educational institutions, including a higher secondary school.
The under-construction bridge also connects the upper hilly areas including Trakanjan, Hiller Peerniya, Damping, Lari, Badin and Medanan with the Tehsil Complex, Boniyar, and the town’s main market.
According to locals, the construction of the bridge was started in the year 2015 after the flood damaged it completely. The slow pace of construction, however, is making the residents, particularly students and patients, “suffer”. The bridge, if completed, will benefit over 35ooo people residing on the other side.
“The bridge is very important for all sections of society, whether staff, school-going children, PHC patients or employees. Adults somehow manage to get over to the other side through the water or by crossing the very bridge, but children, women and patients have to face difficulties,” said Rashid Latief, a teacher in a local high school.
The secondary school students said that they have been eagerly waiting for the bridge to be completed so that their problems could end. But the concerned Roads and Buildings (R&B) department seems so “slow” that residents fear the construction will “not complete” in this decade.
Qurat-ul-ian, a higher secondary school student, said that students are delayed every day on their way to school as they are “stuck” here. The only alternative to get to school is an over two-kilometre route, which they have to travel on foot.
Several parents told Kashmir Reader that they have changed their wards’ schools as going via the under-construction bridge and through water was proving to be difficult and unsafe.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that despite having a PHC at their doorstep, they are “forced” to take patients to the district hospital more than 20 kilometres away, even during “emergency”. They blamed the concerned department for their “suffering” for taking so much time in the bridge’s completion.
“Even during nights, we are forced to book a commercial vehicle to take patients to District Hospital, Baramulla, or Sub-district Hospital, Uri. Both are more than 20 to 25 kilometres away from here,” said Shahid Mir a local resident.
AEE R&B department, Uri, Imtiyaz Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that the initial delay in construction of the bridge was due to the “revisions” in design and “unavailability” of constructing material.
“The design for constructing the very bridge was changed many times as the initial length was to construct a six metre bridge, but it has now been redesigned to construct a bridge 11 metres in length. That resulted in failure of meeting its deadline” said Imtiyaz Ahmad.
Imtiyaz Ahmad said, “I feel ashamed by the delay in the construction of the bridge as the major population suffers because of its non-completion. Also, the funds for construction were not utilised in the first go. The actual BPR cost for the construction of the bridge was Rs 395 lakh, but due to the change in design, the costs increased by more than Rs 40 lakhs later”.
He assured the public that the bridge’s construction will be completed soon and will be thrown open for the public and transport.