Funds coming in ‘trickles’, months to get a bill cleared: Project Manage
Anantnag: More than fifteen years after its construction was taken up, a vital bridge over the Jhelum river here in Dogripora area of Pulwama district remains incomplete. Poor funding, and political meddling in the past, is stated to be the main cause of the delay.
The bridge, aimed at connecting dozens of villages in Pulwama district to the Anantnag-Srinagar stretch of the national highway, was sanctioned by the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)-Congress coalition.
Work on the bridge was started in 2007 by the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC). “The bridge was aimed at connecting villages like Dogripora, Nayina, Panzgam, Reshipora, and others to the highway,” a source in the JKPCC told Kashmir Reader.
Locals in the area said that the bridge would have greatly reduced their travel time, on a daily basis, and in cases of any emergency. “We live closer to Anantnag district headquarters than to Pulwama, and are dependent on the former in every aspect including healthcare,” the locals said.
They added that they continue to take detours and reach Awantipora first to access the highway. “What should be a 10-minute commute for us takes more than 30 minutes. It becomes all the more annoying in cases of emergencies,” the locals said. “It is a pity that it has taken this long for the government to construct a bridge.”
The JKPCC source said that funding has been really slow on the project, and the money came in trickles, putting the contractor in a spot of bother. “Besides, there was political meddling, given the fact that the government changed soon after the project was taken up,” the source said.
He said that in 2016, more than 1.5 crore rupees were diverted from another project to this bridge in wake of slow funding, which is “the core reason for the delay,” he said.
Kashmir Reader talked to the Deputy General Manager (DGM) of the JKPCC for Pulwama, Shabir Ahmad Najar, who acknowledged that the funding has been really slow.
“We tried to put the project under NABARD but could not do so, and then we succeeded in getting it listed in the languishing projects list,” Najar said. “However, the funding is still coming in trickles. The contractor has huge liabilities and it takes months to get a bill cleared.”
He said that the work had recently been stopped given a rise in the water levels of Jhelum. “I have talked to the contractor and he has assured me that the work will be started again soon,” Najar said.
Asked about the completion of the project, Najar remained non-committal, while hoping that the funding will improve on the project. “The work will pick pace only after the funds flow freely,” he said.