If omens are to be believed, one may say that the foundation of Ganpat Bridge was laid at very inauspicious occasion. It is many years when the work on the bridge was started but never completed. Several crore rupees have been sunk and the project remains abandoned. What a callous attitude towards the works of public utility. Prior to construction of Baglihar Power Project people in the region of Doda, Bhadarwah and Kishtwar used to take the vehicular road via Pul Doda running by river Chenab to reach their destinations. The 263 meters span balanced cantilever Ganpat Bridge across Chenab was mooted to provide alternate connectivity to the people of Doda, Bhadarwah and Kishtwar. People of these far-flung areas were happy that a river over the Chenab would facilitate their mobility without hassles. But their dream did not come true when the company contract was given, left the project halfway and disappeared. For many years nobody cared to know why the construction of the work was left half way and what needed to be done to resume it.
Now the Minister for Roads and Buildings, Abdul Majid Wani claims that suspension of the work on this vital bridge has happened owing to interference by vested interests. He even went to the length of saying that some politicians and officials had ulterior motives and sabotaged the work and that he was going to expose them. It has to be reminded that even the Chief Minister paid a visit to the site and wanted to know why construction work had been suspended. Even this did not lead to the resumption of construction work. Are the alleged politicians and officials so resourceful and manipulative that they can manage to swindle the Government and get big projects like the construction of Ganpat Bridge scuttled to suite their interests? It is a sad commentary on the administration and efficiency of the department. If the Minister is satisfied that there have been external elements responsible for suspension of a project like the one under discussion, he should disclose their names and announce constitution of an enquiry committee to probe the matter and come out with a report within the stipulated time.
The apparent reason for abandoning the work on the project was the findings by IIT Delhi and CES Consultancy submitted to the PWD some time back. However, Jammu Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) appointed T K Basu and V P Singh as Consultants and they presented their report, which rejected the findings of the IIT Delhi and CES. The report of the Consultants brings new hope as it said that the work on the bridge could be resumed with the M45 concrete strength material. Their view is that the bridge is safe and after the further sub-soil investigation, the work can be started. They stressed that the new findings and detailed investigation by them makes it clear that Ganpat Bridge can become a reality without compromising any safety concerns.
Admittedly this has been a bizarre case of irresponsibility, mismanagement and callousness to have sunk enormous money and left the work half way without accountability. Both State Vigilance Organization and the State Accountability Commission are reported to be conducting enquiries on their respective level into the reasons of abandoning the work. We believe that there are many underhand intrigues going on to sabotage enquiries and probing. The statement of the Minister corroborates this view. As such, the proper thing to do would be that the Government orders speeding up of enquiry into the entire case on the one hand and resumption of construction work on the other. Both activities should continue simultaneously. Now that the Minister has raised the finger of accusation, it is but logical that the case should be properly enquired into. The company that has abandoned the work should be black listed after a case of corruption or negligence is established against it.