Anatnag: There has been no headway into a World Bank-funded project here in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district, despite the authorities assuring that the work would re-start on the project by August end.
The project, a bridge over Jhelum and widening of the approach road, has remained abandoned for around two years now. The road project, named ‘Upgradation of Bijbehara to Kanihama road via Katriteng and Waghama’, proposes widening and upgradation 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 work on the project, funded by the World Bank, was started in 2020 by the executing agency – the Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA). However, after some work on the bridge, the project was soon abandoned and is yet to be taken up again.
Kashmir Reader reported the issue on August 10. The Kashmir Director for ERA had assured that the work would be taken up by the end of August, after completion of land acquisition and compensation.
“There was a lot of land acquisition involved in the project and it needs to be carried out in a perfect manner, given it is a World Bank-funded project,” Bukhari had told this reporter. “We are expecting the work to start as early as the end of this month. There have been some hiccups and they have been sorted out.”
Almost a month has passed since the end of August but there are no signs of work being taken up again on the project. “The project remains abandoned,” the sources told Kashmir Reader.
Kashmir Reader contacted Bukhari again, who said that the designs and other documents have been sent to the World Bank for approval. “World Bank-funded projects need such approvals. We are hopeful that work will resume in a weeks time or so, after we get the necessary approvals,” he said.
People in the area continue to wait anxiously, meanwhile, given the importance of this project. Not only will the bridge create an alternate route to Dachnipora area of Bijbehara, but it will also be an easier route to Pahalgam in Anantnag district.
“Besides, it will decongest Bijbehara town to a huge extent. The town is facing acute traffic mess since more than a decade now,” the locals told Kashmir Reader.
They said that the project will open new economic opportunities for the people living along it, as well as others.
“We were really hopeful after reading about how the work will resume by the end of August, but the hopes were short lived. We guess the project has been abandoned altogether,” the residents lamented.
Bukhari, however, assured that the project was not abandoned and the work will resume soon.