Anantnag: A 5-km road connecting dozens of villages in Dialgam area of Anantnag has been declared complete by the PMGSY authorities, who have simply ignored the glaring defiance of the project demands – including the road not being widened and the required drainage system completely out of the picture.
The work on the road between Peth-Dialgam and Gunoora via Kamad in Anantnag district was undertaken by the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna (PMGSY) in 2018-19 and was estimated to be completed with an expenditure of more than Rs 4.5 crore.
Sources in the department told Kashmir Reader that officials last year declared the road complete without taking into consideration the incomplete work done by the contractors.
“The first glaring defiance is the breadth of the road and that should not have been missed by any official, had they visited the site or had they not been hand-in-glove with the contractors,” an insider in the PMGSY told Kashmir Reader.
The source said that the width of the road was supposed to be 35 feet and in the process many illegal constructions in some of the villages, including Kamad and Ugjen, needed to be dismantled.
“The road, however, is 24 feet at its widest points, while it is only 10 to 12 feet at most of the places. Neither the officials nor the contractor made any efforts to widen the road,” the source said.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that the narrow, blacktopped road has become all the more dangerous to everyone. “The road used to be narrow but full of potholes and that is why people drove along carefully. Now that the road is macadamised, the drivers tend to throw caution to the wind, putting lives of people in danger,” Ghulam Muhammad, a resident of Ugjen, told Kashmir Reader.
Recently a woman died in Kamad area, along the road, after she was hit by a speeding vehicle. The locals rue that there was no footpath or a concrete berm constructed along the road, as was mandatory.
Also, a drainage system was to be constructed, as per the project details, which has altogether been shunned by the contractor. “These things were essential. A drainage system, a concrete berm to protect the concrete, and at least some space for the pedestrians to walk on (were required),” the sources said. “The contractors just blacktopped the road and the officials were happy declaring it complete.”
Besides, a huge chunk of the money from the project remained unspent, the sources said.
Kashmir Reader talked to the Executive Engineer of PMGSY for Anantnag, Khalid Mehmood, who said that the road has been completed two years ago. “How come the people are showing concern now?” he asked.
“When the road was being constructed, not even a single soul was ready to give up even the tiniest part of their land,” he said, adding that the acquisition had to be done by the revenue department.
He said that if his department had persisted with acquiring the land first, the project would have missed the deadline and it would still have been incomplete. He did not answer why the drainage system and the berm were not constructed.