JAMMU, Mar 2: The highest road bridge in the country at Doda over river Chenab is awaiting its commissioning since October despite the fact that bridge is complete by all means for the last about five months.
This prestigious bridge over Chenab remained in controversies due to internal politics for quite some time and was completed after the delay of over seven years. It was complete by first week of October 2016 and was slated to be commissioned on October 11 last year but the ceremony was postponed due to non-availability of the VIP (Chief Minister).
Highly placed sources in R&B told the Excelsior that Chief Minister’s Secretariat then gave the second tentative date of October 18, 2016 but again due to some unavoidable reasons and busy schedule of the CM, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat again postponed the programme of commissioning this bridge. Due to this reason, the vital bridge could not be thrown out to traffic.
Further yet another date was given during the middle of December for the Commissioning of this bridge but again due to non-availability of the VIP, the programme had to be postponed. The fourth date during third week of February could not be materialized. Now, the Chief Minister’s Secretariat has given consent to the JKPCC authorities to make all arrangements for the commissioning of this bridge after the Chief Minister arrived after performing Umra in Saudi Arabia. The sources said that it can be commissioned any time before 10th of this month.
Hashmat Ali, a senior officer in CM’s Secretariat when contacted said that Chief Minister is expected to arrive here after performing Umra within next two three days but refused to share details about the commissioning of this bridge.
Managing Director JKPCC Dalip Thusoo when contacted said that as conveyed by the higher authorities in the Department, the Chief Minister has given the consent to commission this bridge after returning from Umra. He said JKPCC has been asked to make all preparations for the same and anytime within next couple of days, this ceremony can take place any time after three four days. The MD said some changes in the name plate with regard to names/ date etc are being made. He said that bridge was 100 % ready and even light vehicles some times are allowed to use this bridge.
Thusoo disclosed that approach roads on both sides of the bridge are complete and just black topping work could not be performed due to cold season. It will be done as the weather improves. He said that due to rains some land slides had occurred about two months back on the road patch towards Doda town side, but that was cleared within two weeks. He said in fact this bridge is ready since October and “we are expecting its commissioning by the VIP shortly. The former R&B Minister, AR Veeri was very particular about the early commissioning of this bridge so that people of this Chenab belt could be benefitted”.
It is worthwhile to mention here that instead of its completion period of two years, the people of this Doda belt suffered for about seven years, due to slow pace of work on the bridge. Not only this, there has been huge cost escalation on this bridge during this period. This additional cost incurred on the bridge, is an extra burden on the public exchequer. The work on the bridge remained abandoned for about five years.
Sources said that the work on this bridge was started during 2008 after the then Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad cleared the bridge project worth Rs 29 crore on river Chenab with sufficient height from the river pondage during 2007. But this bridge project remained in controversies from very beginning. Investigation agencies were involved and design of the bridge was challenged. Later, IIT Delhi was involved in the design study and then again another Delhi based consultancy was involved. But interestingly, again the first design of the bridge was okayed.
A senior officer in JKPCC disclosed that bridge is ready in all respects. The approach 1.4 kms road on one side towards Doda City is complete. On Khellani side, it is hardly 750 meters and is also complete. He said blacktopping will be done after March 15 and it is hardly task of couple of days. The movement of vehicles is restricted on the new bridge but sometimes, light vehicles are allowed to take this route. ” We have been asked to get ready for the commissioning and it is expected to happen within one week” he added.
He further disclosed that Ganpat bridge is highest motorable bridge in the country. The highest Railway bridge near Reasi (Salal) is also on river Chenab (dam). This Doda bridge on river Chenab is 278 ft ( nearly 86 meters) in height. The total span of the bridge is 263 mt and its is double lane bridge. He said the third consultants M/s CES Delhi, a leading and old bridges Consultancy cleared the initial design of the bridge which indicated that it was unnecessarily dragged into controversies by some people. Only minor changes they suggested but the design remained the same as cleared by first consultancy.