SHOPIAN: The pathetic condition of an under-construction Shopian-Bejbrara road is giving commuters and transporters a tough time as, according to them, the project contractors have turned the road into a rivulet and it takes them hours to ply the 15-kilometre stretch from Shopian to Chitragam.
Inhabitants in the area told Kashmir Reader that work on the road was started in 2017 in two parts, one from Bejbrara to Chitragam and another from Chitragam to Shopian. Work on the 15 km Bejbrara stretch went speedily, but the construction of same length of road from Chitragam to Shopian is going at a snail’s pace. “They (contractors) have sidelined the guidelines and have dug wide drains beside the road. Daily accidents and traffic jams have become a frequent phenomenon now, while the departmet authorities are in slumber,” said Mushtaq Ahmad Bhat, a local.
The Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department is accusing the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department for the slow pace of work. The officals said that the PHE department isn’t shifting the pipelines which has resulted in the slow speed of road widening and construction.
A group of senior citizens from Imamsahib area told Kashmir Reader that they had brought the issue to the notice of the higher authorities umpteen times, but the officers had paid no attention to the problems faced by people in the area. “Winter is coming, and the present condition of the road would not allow vehicles to ply on it. They dug big drains without filling them with in bolders or gravel. Once there come two vehicles to the same spot, it’s certain that one of them will get stranded in the drain,” said Ghulam Rasool, who had been among the delegation.
Locals also said that the contractors had placed soil and mud on the road and that at places there were drains that overflowed onto the road. Its surface thus became slippery, resulting in frequent accidents. “Every day or two, we see a load-bearing truck skidded off the road due to its pathetic condition and the slow pace of work on it,” said Javid Ahmad Mir, an office-going local.
Students from the area also complain of the same problems. Those that Kashmir Reader spoke to said they often get late reaching their schools and examination centres because the transporters take a lot of time to reach Shopian or to return, but the Shopian–Chitragam Road is their only means of connecting them to the rest of the world.
Executive Engineer R&B, Shopian, Zahoor Ahmad told Kashmir Reader that once the PHE department would shift the pipelines, the work speed would be upgraded. “They are not shifting pipelines; it not only gives a tough time to people but we too suffer with this. As soon as they shift the lines, we will increase the pace of work,” he said adding that the department will not compromise on the norms and guidelines it has prescribed.
Meanwhile, Executive Engineer PHE Nisar Ahmad Shah said that they have written from the 3mm pipelines to the higher ups. “Once the pipes would get sanctioned, we will shift the lines within days,” he assured, adding that there are only three kilometers of road where they have to shift the lines, while the rest of the job had already been done by the department.