10 years on, deadlock delays widening of Meerak Shah road

Failure to remove structures affect the widening of Meerak Shah-Zakura road in Srinagar. -Excelsior/Shakeel
Failure to remove structures affect the widening of Meerak Shah-Zakura road in Srinagar. -Excelsior/Shakeel

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, July 16: A deadlock between affected property owners and the administration over the compensation has halted the widening of Syed Meerak Shah- Zakura road in Srinagar, the work on which was started a decade ago.
This disagreement has delayed the project as authorities are unable to remove the buildings that come in the way of the proposed project. This improper widening has put extra vehicular pressure on the bottlenecks and deteriorated the traffic scenario in the old city. The busy squares in Khayam, Khanyar, and Rainawari are the worst affected.
The construction work on the 10.33-kilometres road stretch from Dalgate to Zakura area of Srinagar was started in 2009 with an estimated cost of Rs 336.24 crores. The widening of the road was aimed to streamline the old city’s traffic and get rid of traffic snarls. However, the project is far from completion despite the lapse of a decade.
Majority of the affected building owners said that the Government should pay them an adequate compensation before asking them to vacate their properties. “We are ready to cooperate provided Government gives us the desired compensation. How can they demolish our houses without paying us compensation as per the market value?”, Shabir Ahmad, a local from Khayam area, asked.
He added that the value of a Kanal of land in their area was over Rs 2 crores, but the Government was paying only Rs 40 lakhs. “We want the Government to have a serious look into the matter,” he said.
The road is a vital link leading to several religious places and education institutes including Kashmir University, Hazratbal Shrine and National Institute of Technology.
Some people living along the road stretch blamed the Government for adopting a lazy approach to project management.”They are constructing the road in patches and there seems to be no end in the construction process. I have married my two sons and became grandfather since the construction work started. I do not think I will travel on this road in my lifetime,” Mohammad Akram, a resident of Rainawari said.
Chief Engineer, Sami Arif said acquisition of many structures were involved for the execution of the project and that has delayed it. “Only those stretches are unattended where the acquisition of structures is required. Some of the residential house owners have moved to the court. There are issues of acquisition. We have already taken up with the Government and are hopeful that the issue will be settled”, he said.
He added: “Because of these pending stretches the project is held up. We are developing the stretches which are available to us. At many places, we have done it. We need more funds for the acquisition of these structures,” he said.