R&B-PHE quarrel keeps road from Shopian to Bijbehara elusive

R&B-PHE quarrel keeps road from Shopian to Bijbehara elusive

Existing thoroughfare turns into rivulet

SHOPIAN: A dispute between two departments over the main road from Shopian to Bejbrara has left hundreds of villages in dismay at the road’s deplorable condition . The dispute apart, contractors have meanwhile violated several road construction guidelines, resulting in the road being turned into a rivulet that brings about frequent vehicular breakdowns.
Work on this 26-kilometre stretch was started in 2017 at an estimate cost of Rs 48.75 crore. When almost half the road had been completed, a conflict arose between the Public Health Engineering (PHE) and the Roads and Buildings (R&B) departments over the shifting of pipelines. Officials from the PHE department said that while they needed Rs 7.47 crore for the task, the R&B department had given them only Rs 1.5 crore which, according to them, was far from sufficient.
In the process, 15 kms of road from Shopian to Zainpora has been turned into a rivulet as, according to locals, the contractors have violated their guidelines and have extended the road beyond the course of vehicular movement. “They have dug drains on both sides of the road which have caused accidents and sometimes breakdowns of vehicles. We haven’t ever seen contractors like those who were working on this road; it seems the government has given contracts to laymen who don’t know even an iota about road construction,” said Muhammad Rafi Dar, a resident of Chitragam.
Students, office-going people and drivers from this area are up in arms against the government for delaying the road construction. Besides continuous shutdowns in the area, said students Kashmir Reader spoke with, their education had been affected by the road dispute as they are invariably unable to reach their educational institutions less than two hours late.
R&B officials said that the work is getting delayed due to the delay in shifting pipelines by the PHE Department.
The R&B Executive Engineer, Abdul Quyoom, told Kashmir Reader that the PHE Department had not shifted the lines despite being given a sufficent amount for doing so. “We have them Rs 1.5 crore, and they still didn’t shift the lines,” he said, adding that deliberations have been held with the department in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner. “We hope the matter gets solved very soon,” he said while admitting that contractors have violated guidelines at few places.
“I have issued a final deadline to the contractors to complete the work, and hopefully it will be available for the public within six months,” Quyoom added.
The PHE Executive Engineer, Muhammad Aslam, on the other hand, said that the department needed Rs 7.47 crore for shifting the lines. “There are 80 kms for us to cover as there are many pipelines going beneath the road and we don’t want to have snags again and again,” he said adding, “We want to serve people as this road will not be constructed everywhere. The government must listen to our genuine demands.