Floods of 2014 caused far greater damages than what we ordinarily think. Temporary or short-time damages can be borne for some time under compulsion. But it is the long term damages that are really worrisome for the people as well as the Government. South Kashmir had to face the massive brunt of 2014 unprecedented floods when all major rivers were in spate.
A number of bridges were washed away by the floods causing much inconvenience and difficulty to the people. These bridges have not been rebuilt although it is more than two years when the floods happened. Five washed away bridges have been identified as important and much needed bridges in addition to many others. Construction work on all the major bridges including Rohmu Bridge, Gudoora Bridge, Chankatar Bridge, Vishoo and Balpora has not started yet which is affecting millions of people who are forced to take longer routes to reach their destination thereby affecting their lives directly. However work on Chanakatar Bridge, which connects the upper tribal villages to the main town of Tral is said to be underway. The construction work on the most vital bridges like Batpora Bridge, which connects Batpora Police Lines Shopian to the rest of villages and Rohmu Bridge, which connects Pulwama town to the Central Kashmir via Newa have not been taken in hand so far. Residents who used Rohmu Bridge when it was intact complain that make-shift road has been made temporarily from the gravel obtained from the river but it is very dangerous. Removal of gravel has sunk the bed of the river deeper and in rains the river would be in spate again creating danger for the pedestrians. The difficulties of the local residents have been multiplying ever since.
However, the officials say that sponsorship for the construction of two out of the five mentioned bridges has been taken over by the World Bank and the State authorities have to wait till the World Bank formally conveys clearance. In their opinion it could take about two months more. They contend that work on other bridges is also underway. But they have not explained what is the current status of the reconstruction work.
Actually more bridges have suffered damages in other parts of the Valley. A survey of such washed off bridges would further show how the Government is not really serious in mitigating the difficulties of the people. Union and State Governments both had made enough allocations for the construction or repair of bridges and roads damaged during the floods of 2014. What happened to those funds and how far were they expended precisely for the purpose for which allocations were made is a question that rises in the mind of every inhabitant of Kashmir valley. Bridge construction is a time consuming activity. People suffer owing to waste of much time and energy.
R&B authorities complain of paucity of funds. By and large most of the projects in the State are making the same complaint. We fail to understand why this complicacy occurs repeatedly in the case of important projects in the State. This matter ought to be probed and the R&B Department needs to evolve a method so that there is not pause in flow of funds for approved projects. May be there is some red tape bottleneck that prevents free flow of funds. We hope the Government of the State will attend to this issue. It is of utmost importance that work on these bridges is started without further delay and without causing more difficulties for the people of these localities.