Anantnag: More than half a dozen villages, in the Kangan area of central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, lack all-weather connectivity and are dependent on dangerous, makeshift footbridges, as the construction of two pivotal bridges has been languishing for more than ten years now.
The bridges over the Sindh River, one called the Akal-Bridge and another one the Tangchater-Bridge, were sanctioned by the National Conference-Congress government in around 2010. The work was started in 2012, and taken up by the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC).
The bridges were to be constructed at an estimated cost of around 8 Crore Rupees each and would have provided all-weather connectivity to more than six villages. “These bridges would have connected the villages to Kangan and the Tehsil headquarters, apart from being their approach to Srinagar-Leh Highway,” the locals, Kashmir Reader talked to, said.
However, an inordinate delay in the construction of these pivotal bridges has left the residents of these villages dismayed. The residents told Kashmir Reader that the sanctioning of these bridges had given them immense hope of swift connectivity to the outside world.
“But a decade later, we are still treading the dangerous makeshift footbridges for our daily travels, and in cases of emergency as well,” the residents lament, “We have been left dismayed by successive governments, and vulnerable because we do not have a way out,”
Sources in the JKPCC told Kashmir Reader that a paucity of funds led to the delay in construction. “Funds came in trickles. Besides, there was an ongoing lawsuit because in the first place only Akal Bridge was sanctioned and the people of Tangchater moved to court and demanded a similar bridge,” the source said.
He added that substantial time was wasted by the time the court decided in favor of Tangchater residents and asked the government to sanction a similar bridge for them as well.
Kashmir Reader tried to talk to the Deputy General Manager of JKPCC for Ganderbal, Farooq Ahmad Bhat, but he did not attend to repeated calls made by this reporter.
A senior official in Srinagar, however, informed Kashmir Reader that the bridges were recently taken under the Central Road Fund (CRF), on directions of the Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha.
“The work was sped up following that and the Tangchater Bridge has been almost completed, barring the construction of an approach. We have allowed some traffic to ply on the bridge as well,” the official said.
He maintained that the Akal bridge might take some more time given the fact that the contractor of the bridge backed out. “His CDR has been seized and the corporation is now in the process of floating fresh tenders for the Akal Bridge,” the official said, adding that the work is expected to be completed soon for there was no more a paucity of funds for the project.