Anantnag: Fourteen years after he had commissioned it and more than three years after his death, former Chief Minister Late Mufti Muhammad Sayeed’s pet project for Anantnag town-a mega shopping complex, with a parking space-is yet to be completed.
With an aim to provide the local business men an alternate, better space to conduct business from, the shopping complex was sanctioned by Mufti in 2004, when he was the Chief Minister.
The project-located in Lal Chowk area, the heart of the city-was also aimed at providing a parking space, given the dearth of such space in the town of around 150 vehicles.
In July that year Mufti laid the foundation stone, while the already existing Fire Service Station and an SRTC yard at the site were vacated.
Soon around 160 individuals from the town, including shopkeepers and other businessmen, pooled in more than 80 Lac Rupees (fifty thousand per head) and the construction was started.
The Municipal Council of Anantnag (MCA) was entrusted with the project, which subsequently sub-let the work to a local contractor.
“The construction has been going on ever since. What I fail to understand is why on earth is it taking this long,” said Muhammad Ashraf, a local shopkeeper.
After missing several deadlines, April 2018 was set to be the final deadline for the completion of the project.
It has been almost a year ever since as well and there is no sign of the project getting completed, leaving the local shopkeepers frustrated.
“I have been operating from this rented shop for all these years, with the hope that the project will get completed and I will get a shop of my own. 13 years is a long time. May be my children will get a shop there,” another shopkeeper, Sayeed Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader.
The shopkeepers rue that they could have easily invested the money elsewhere given the fact that 50,000 Rupees in 2004 meant a lot if inflation is kept into equation.
Meanwhile the cost of the project has also escalated from 9 Crore Rupees to 19.3 Crore Rupees, which will mean that the contenders have to shell out more money when they take possession of a shop.
The MCA officials when contacted said that a dispute between the contractor and the architect is causing all the delay.
“They have some financial issue to settle. The architect is asking for revised commission and has withheld the external design of the structure,” Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the MCA, Sarfaraz Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the MCA has reached out to the director with the request that the project be handed over to them.
“We will auction the shops and see what can be done with the external design, by passing the contractor and the architect. But we are yet to get a nod from the director. We are waiting,” Ahmad said.