Anantnag: Two vital bridges in the south Kashmir districts of Pulwama and Shopian were damaged in the devastating floods of September 2014. Their reconstruction, funded by the World Bank, was taken up in late 2017 by the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Development Corporation (JKPCC). But funds from the World Bank were slow to arrive, and the back-to-back lockdowns in Kashmir valley since August 2019 further impeded work, with the result that the bridges are still not built and the local people continue to face many difficulties.
The Rohmoo Bridge in Pulwama district, over the Romshi Nallah, and the Trenz Bridge in Shopian district, over the Rambiar Nallah, were among dozens of bridges in south Kashmir that were swept away in the floods of 2014.
“The two bridges are vital for the reason that they not only connect dozens of villages in the two districts but also Shopian district to Pulwama and Pulwama district to neighbouring Budgam district,” local sources told Kashmir Reader.
The 300-metre Trenz Bridge was the lifeline for many villages in Shopian district which are dependent on Pulwama for their health care and other basic needs.
“We have to take a longer detour and what would have been a 15-minute drive now takes hours,” local residents said.
The government apathy has been such that while many other bridges were funded and completed within a couple of years, these two bridges remained neglected till the summer of 2017.
“It was only in May 2017 that the then chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, visited the two spots and announced that the bridges will be funded by the World bank,” the sources said. “Subsequently, work was started in September 2017 by the JKPCC.”
The cost for building the bridges was estimated at about 56 crore rupees (Rs 34.5 crore for the Trenz Bridge and Rs 21.5 crore for the Rohmoo bridge).
Work, though, has remained on the sluggish side. JKPCC officials had maintained in March 2018 while talking to this reporter that the bridges will be completed within a year.
The deadline has already been missed and the bridges are nowhere near completion. Sources in the JKPCC told Kashmir Reader that paper work at the World Bank has been cumbersome and it often takes months to get the payments released.
“Despite that, the work has been going on, but the two back-to-back lockdowns have hampered it to a large extent,” the sources said.
Kashmir Reader talked to Masood Ahmad Gangoo, Deputy General Manager of JKPCC for Pulwama, who said he hoped that the bridges will be completed by June next year.
“Fresh tenders for prefabricated material have been floated for both the bridges and work has been allotted. It is understood that the work will not be as smooth in winters as it is in summers, but still I believe that the contractors will speed up and the bridges will be completed by June 21,” Gangoo said.
He acknowledged that the release of funds from the World Bank was time-consuming and had affected the work adversely.