Sub-standard material and blockades by orchardists to blame
Shopian: A vital road that connects hundreds of villages of district Shopian with Pulwama and Anantnag districts has sustained damages at several places despite having been blacktopped by the government four months ago.
The development and widening of the 17-kilometre road from Shopian to Litter was started at the begining of 2017, and the stretch was blackcoated by summer this year. But, according to the locals, the road’s condition started deteriorating in months, before even a single winter had passed. “The road has developed cracks and its black coating has fallen off at dozens of places, resulting in a bumpy road,” said Basharat Ahmad, a local, adding that this would not have happened if the authorities had used standard material in the road’s construction.
Another resident, Shakir Ahmad, said that a month after the macadamisation of the road, a team of experts visited and made holes at several places in it to check the material used. “However they didn’t spare time to fill those spots after checking the road construction,” Shakir said, and so the holes are still “living” and are causing more and more of the road to become even worse.
According to official data, over Rs 17 crore were spent by the government to develop this road and meet the long-pending demands of people inhabiting the area.
A group of locals from Pinjora area said that the road widening had been of no use to them as the newly widened area of the road has been blocked by orchardists living alongside it. “The branches of trees were spread over the road, and people put stones, logs and boulders to stop vehicles from passing,” said Abdul Majeed, a local, who added that due to the blockades at several places, the road is as narrow as it was before 2017.
Others alleged that sub-standard material was used in the macadamisation of the road and that the officials concerned watched the whole mess as mute spectators. “The development of this road was started after more than three decades of demands and wait by the people in the area, but the contractors and government officials turned this development into a nightmare for hundreds of villages,” a group of locals said.
A resident said that the contractors used old engine oil instead of tarcoal in building the road, which led to quick damages in it. He said that such damages didn’t occur at a few but at hundreds of places along the road.
Locals added that the orchardists alongside the road used blockades to save their tress which have already come under notice for road widening. They said that the sudden blockages result in accidents and bring injuries and loss of life to the people plying the road. “At times, a transport vehicle may unkowingly roll over a stone, which might either hit a civilian or damage another passing vehicle,” said Muhammad Umair, a local.
Executive Engineer, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), Sajad Nauquab told Kashmir Reader that that it is better for the department and the people if the road has developed cracks or damages because the same will be repaired by the contractors within five years of laying the black coating. “His (the contractor’s) bills will not get passed till he repairs the damages,” Nauquab said. “A central team is looking after the road conditions under PMGSY, and we have zero tolerance on the use of substandard material.” He also added that his office will depute an assistant executive engineer to remove the blockades which people have put at places.