The devastating floods of September 2014 extensively damaged major bridges of South Kashmir but the concerned authorities are quite oblivious and insensible towards the discomfiture and problems faced by the people of the area who otherwise were using these bridges. The work on these damaged bridges has been going on at a snail’s pace because of funds problems, if contractors’ pleas have to be considered, as their bills continue to remain unpaid.
The fate of construction works going on regarding the major bridges like Rohmu bridge, Trenz, Trisal, Batapora, and Asthal bridges is uncertain as these bridges continue to remain incomplete impelling thousands of people living in these areas to take alternate but longer routes every day to reach their destination. So much is the frustration among the people of the area that many of them feel that it looked doubtful whether these bridges would ever be ready for use during their lifetime. Four long years have gone which is no mean by itself to test the patience of the suffering people who watched these important objects of public use getting washed away by gushing floods and subsequently generating hope of their reconstruction in a reasonable time .
The other side of the picture is that the construction cost of two bridges was funded by the World Bank and since with them, “Chalta Hai” system is unheard of, due to non complying of certain strict guidelines laid down by them, the work got delayed, if the words of an official from the Jammu and Kashmir projects Construction Corporation are to be believed. Very Often, it is seen that such financing bodies live up to their strict systems and procedures and never agree to compromise with them even if of a minor nature. Such a culture of works and cost management had to be appreciated and followed as well. It, often starts with the paper work like reckoning cost details, preparing technical reports, project details, furnishing environmental related details etc all getting delayed or not conforming to their standards or check list, the work suffers. Not used and exposed to such standards besides being the first project of the World Bank of this nature, an inordinate time nearly of two years was taken all in preparing the paper work only. That precisely speaks as to why a paltry 20 percent of the work only was complete.
The regrettable picture of the problem is that following total damage caused to these bridges, the people residing in the area had repeatedly to approach the authorities requesting for repairing and reconstructing these bridges and it took them nearly two years in getting the approval. The construction, as such, on the bridges like Trenz (estimated cost Rs 34.50 crore) and Rahmoo bridge (estimated Rs.21.25 crore) started only in August 2017.
About the funds position, JKPCC authorities maintain that only 10% of funding in respect of one bridge and as regard about the other bridges, even that much had not been received and with 10 percent funding, clearing contractors’ liability only up to 30% was possible. However, the Corporation has been paying to contractors from out of their own sources. That Romshi Bridge would be completed in all respects by the end of March 2019 and Trenz Bridge in December 2019 is all that is being assured by the JKPCC.
Shopian- Batpora Bridge in South Kashmir’s Shopian district too was washed away in the floods but the Government had yet not started to rebuild it. Rambiara stream, as a result had to be crossed through a makeshift road by thousands of people living in nearly 30 villages of the flood affected area. Vehicles cannot, without lot of difficulties, cross the uneven road and it is reported that several vehicles have suffered damages while plying on that road stretch.
It is evident from all these accounts that Government does not think connect with people, by addressing their day to day problems, any longer important especially in the strained conditions otherwise prevailing there. People, at the first instance, want in each and every state elementary utilities like roads, power and water supply to be made available without hassles as any difficulty encountered in any one of these, and that too over unspecified long durations, added to their woes and created avoidable misunderstandings against the Government. We would like to urge the concerned authorities to address the problem of very slow progress of work in respect of rebuilding of the damaged bridges in South Kashmir’s specific areas without any ado.