Anantnag: The construction of an important bridge over the Jhelum river is at a standstill for more than four years now, after the work was put to a halt as funds dried up – and also in wake of some political meddling in the project – here in Sempora area on the outskirts of Srinagar city.
The bridge was meant to connect dozens of villages in Pulwama district to each other, while many villages would been brought closer to the old National Highway and in turn to the summer capital, Srinagar.
It was sanctioned in the year 2017 and the work commenced on the 140-meter-long bridge the same year. “Some money was spent on the bridge but in early 2018 there was some political meddling and the work was put to a halt immediately,” a source in the executing agency, the Roads and Buildings Department, told Kashmir Reader.
The source said that the bridge was to be completed at an estimated cost of 13 crore rupees. “Besides, the bridge was a foot-bridge, to begin with, but the locals had insisted to make it a motorable one. which obviously escalated the cost of the bridge,” the source said.
It has been four years since the work was put to a halt and there has been no further funding on the project, “despite the submission of a fresh Detailed Project Report to the concerned authorities,” the highly placed source said. “The work can only be started after some funds are allocated,” he added.
Locals living on either side of the Jhelum lament that the completion of the bridge would have made their travels easier. “We have to take longer detours to reach the villages that are located just across the Jhelum. Our travel time would have been cut by a long shot and at the same time the travel would have been cheaper,” a resident of Pampore area told Kashmir Reader.
Those living on the Pulwama side of Jhelum rue that the bridge was their only chance of connecting with the old national highway and subsequently to Srinagar. “Travelling to Srinagar is a more than 30-minute affair for us right now but with the completion of this bridge the travel time would have been reduced by more than half,” the residents of the area said.
They said that they have been bringing their plight to the notice of officials every now and then, but to no avail. “The work seems to have been abandoned forever,” the residents fear.
Officials in the Roads and Buildings Department, however, are hopeful that they will receive funding for the project. Executive Engineer for Pulwama, Nisar Ahmad Lala, acknowledged that the work was still on halt at the site.
“But I believe next year in January the funding might be allocated and the work will also start in 2023,” Lala told Kashmir Reader. “I am hopeful that the project will see the light of the day, again.”