The Rs 350-crore prestigious Jahangir Chowk-Rambagh flyover may miss another deadline set for March 2017. Missing several deadlines by prestigious projects is not a new thing for our State and the public has good deal of experience about it. Jehangir Chowk – Rambagh flyover is of much importance in reducing traffic congestion on the only link between the Srinagar civil lines and the airport. It had become almost impossible to manage the traffic congestion on this link road and there were less chances of widening it owing to the fact that the cost of acquiring extended land and paying the compensation for demolishing the structures would have been unbearable. If ordinarily it would take a motor vehicle to cover the distance from Jehangir Chowk to Rambagh about 28 minutes, with the flyover made usable this could be covered in just 2.5 minutes. But more importantly, the flyover avoids traffic congestion which has become the bane of both the capital cities of Jammu and Srinagar.
The project is financed by the Asian Development Bank and the agency that has undertaken the construction is Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency (JKERA). The work on project was started in 2013 and it was scheduled to be completed by 2016, which has not happened. Two main reasons are assigned for delay. One is the summer unrest in Kashmir that remained in place for nearly five months. It had very adverse impact on the work in hand. There were about 800 skilled labourers and workers brought by the construction agency from outside the State. They were all well skilled and had begun to work with dedication and a sense of urgency. But after the unrest appeared, they left the Valley and have not returned even though peace is returned to the Valley. Thus political uncertainty has been the apparent cause of cessation of work on the flyover. The second reason given by the Director ERA is the harsh winter. The flyover work has to be done in open under naked sky and the inclement weather is a hindrance.
Both of these arguments carry weight. The skilled labourers have not returned even though situation has improved in Srinagar. The construction agency is left with hardly 125 workers to resume the building of the flyover. Insiders believe that if conditions remain normal, it may take at least one more year to bring the flyover to completion. Those who give calls for hartal in Srinagar for even flimsy reasons do not understand how much damage they are causing to the State. The bank loans incur big interest and owing to the unrest no work could be done whereas the interest on the money continues to be paid.
We agree that owing to prolonged unrest work could not be continued in last summer.Â But apart from this, there is a big complaint that time schedule is not adhered to when a mega project is taken in hand. If 4.2 kms long flyover cannot be completed in four years, it does not speak well of the agency that has been entrusted with its construction.
We repeat that this is a crucial flyover and when completed, it will change the very face of Srinagar city. The mess at Jehangir Chowk has become almost unbearable. That is the urgency and unless the flyover becomes functional, the crowded satiation and traffic congestion at Jehangir Chowk may not see an end. According to the authorities, only 55 per cent of the work has been completed on this flyover and by this standard we do not think that the flyover will be completed in one year although the Director of ERA believes that given favourable conditions the work will be completed in 8-9 months. In any case, it would be a big relief to the people and especially the citizens of Srinagar to see that the flyover becomes functional early as possible.