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Bridge collapses in Qazigund, locals blame officials

Bridge collapses in Qazigund, locals blame officials

Adil Lateef
SRINAGAR, Feb 25: The commuters of nearly four villages in South Kashmir’s Qazigund are having a tough time as the only bridge that connects their villages with the main township got collapsed due to alleged negligence of authorities last week.
With a population of over 5000, the bridge over Nallah Veth Yethura connects nearly four villages including Checkbadwani and Nagrath to the town of Qazigund. The bridge was only surface link for the residents of these villages to reach to the Railway Station of Qazigund, Block Development Office Qazigund and all other important institutes.
The locals alleged that the failure of authorities to put check on the excessive streambed gravel mining has led to a collapse of the important connecting link. Some of the tainted officials who were hand in glove with the ‘gravel mafia’ have aided and abetted the gravel excavation. The officials who get huge bribes from the private companies are responsible for the collapse. The stream banks have also collapsed at several places.
“The excessive gravel extraction lowers the stream bottom which ultimately leads to the erosion of banks. None thinks about the populace whose lives are wholly and solely dependent on the bridge. They let it collapse”, Kounsar Ahmad, a local said.
The locals said proper supervision and repair work would have saved the bridge but the callous approach of the different departments led to the collapse of the bridge. “The bridge could have been saved but R&B Department hardly paid any visit to the bridge after it developed cracks and a fewer wear and tear,” they added.
Every day hundreds of people risk their lives by using a makeshift bridge which the residents have constructed to avert the crisis, said the aggrieved locals.  Assistant Executive Officer agreed that excessive excavation of gravel and sand was putting the bridges and other structure vulnerable and said they have time and again briefed the higher ups about the problems but to no avail.
“We have registered several FIRs and there has been police action as well but the practice continues. The excessive gravel and sand mining has put several of our important structures vulnerable and we have also issued guidelines that there should be not extraction around the bridges and other structures,” he said.
The official, however, said that the bridge did not collapse due to excessive gravel extraction but was old. “It was a very old single stand slab bridge. Owing to its importance, we have forwarded the case and we are constructing a new bridge at its place. The people need not to panic as we will soon start the construction work,” the official added.

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