Anantnag: Work on at least two bridges, one of them a footbridge and the other a 140-meter road traffic bridge, has been on halt for more than two years now, here on the outskirts of Pampore town in south Kashmir.
The road bridge was being constructed in Sempora area, at an estimated cost of Rs 13 crore. It was supposed to connect dozens of villages on the other side of the Jhelum to the old national highway, cutting down the commute of people living in these villages by a substantial amount of time.
The work on the bridge, being executed by the Roads and Buildings department, commenced in 2017. “After a few months of smooth construction process, the work on the bridge came to an abrupt halt due to some political meddling,” a highly placed source in the R&B department told Kashmir Reader.
He said that some politician during the PDP-BJP coalition government visited the spot and opposed the construction. “The construction was soon put to a halt and never started again,” the source told Kashmir Reader.
Local residents say that they have been moving from one office to another but nothing has been done to restart construction of the bridge. “Some officials tell us that there are no funds, while others say the delay is because of some administrative glitch,” Ghulam Rasool Hajam, a resident of Sempora, told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the bridge would not only have benefited people on the other side of the Jhelum but would also have cut down the travel time of people in Pampore, Sempora and other areas to the Pulwama district headquarters.
Another bridge being constructed in the Pantha Chowk area on Pampore outskirts, a foot bridge, has met the same fate as the one in Sempora. “Some early work, conducted by the NABARD, was carried out and then the site was abandoned. We don’t know what happened afterwards,” a local, Nazir Ahmad, told Kashmir Reader.
Kashmir Reader talked to a high-ranking official in the planning wing of the R&B department, who said that funds had dried up for the Sempora Bridge. “This Sempora Bridge was also a foot bridge to begin with, but on people’s insistence it was turned into a motorable bridge. We have been facing funding issues, despite the fact that a super structure is already in place,” the official said.
He added that the project might be put in the “languishing projects” list to get funding from the central government. “I am not sure about the Pantha Chowk Bridge, though,” he said.
Kashmir Reader contacted Chief Engineer of the R&B, Showkat Jeelani Pandit, who maintained that he was not in the office. “I cannot provide you the exact details right now. I will reach office and then let you know,” Jeelani said.