No work carried out for almost two years now on road that promised easier route to Pahalgam
Anantnag: A vital World Bank-funded road project here in Bijbehara town of Anantnag district has remained abandoned for a little less than two years now, after some initial work on a bridge carried out in 2020.
The road project, named ‘Upgradation of Bijbehara to Kanihama road via Katriteng and Waghama’, was not only to connect dozens of villages to the old National Highway and subsequently to NH-44, but to also become an alternate, easier route to Pahalgam.
The project details propose the widening and upgrade of 8.396 kilometres, which will include a bridge in the New Colony Bijbehara area, with an estimated cost of Rs 14.70 crore.
“The project is being funded by the World Bank,” a senior official in the Bijbehara Sub-Division told Kashmir Reader. He said that the project is being executed by the Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA).
The work, the official said, was started in August 2020, but was abandoned after some work carried out on the bridge connecting Bijbehara town and Katriteng village.
“I don’t know the details of why and how the work has been stopped but funding is not an issue,” the official said.
Locals with whom Kashmir Reader spoke said that the abandoning of the project has been unfortunate, for it would have been a significant lift to the area economically.
“Hundreds of vehicles travel from different parts of Kashmir valley to Pahalgam, and this road could have brought economic opportunities for the locals,” Bashir Ahmad, a resident of Bijbehara town, said.
Besides, he said, the diversion of traffic could have de-congested the main market Bijbehara, “much to the relief of the general public”. Apart from that, the road would have given people living in dozens of villages across Jhelum easy access to Bijbehara town, including the hospital and other facilities.
“We have to take a detour, despite living just across the Jhelum and literally five minutes away from facilities like the hospital and the market. It would have saved us so much time and would have brought us some opportunities as well,” a resident of Katriteng village told Kashmir Reader.