12 years on, Uri bridge awaits completion

A view of incomplete NS bridge near Uri town in Baramulla district. —Excelsior/Aabid Nabi
A view of incomplete NS bridge near Uri town in Baramulla district. —Excelsior/Aabid Nabi

Waseem Ahmad
Srinagar, Sept 16: Despite passing of more than 12 years, the historic Nandh Singh (NS) Bridge on Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway near Uri Town of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district is still incomplete.
Damaged in 2005 earthquake, traffic on the bridge was stopped and in the meantime, a makeshift bridge was constructed for the traffic. However, the bridge too lies damaged now.
As per locals, the bridge which connects nearly 30 far-flung villages of the main town of Uri is like a lifeline for them. “This bridge was constructed in early 90s and is of historical importance. The bridge is located over Haji Peer nallah and connects far-flung areas of Uri town with Tehsil headquarter and is a vital connecting link with the Srinagar-Muzaffarabad highway”, Sageer Ahmad, a local said.
The locals said that after the bridge was damaged in the earthquake, several villages of Uri remained cut off for a while until Border Roads Organization (BRO) constructed a makeshift bridge at its place but that too lies damaged. “The makeshift structure got damaged, during the flash floods of 2014 and needed immediate repairs. Its pillars have developed cracks. People are putting their lives at risk by using it. During heavy rains, huge flow of water in the nallah increases the chances of mishaps,” Saleem Khan, another local said.
He said a tussle between the construction company and the BRO has delayed the completion of the Bridge and authorities are acting as mute spectators even as people continue to face extreme hardships. “We have been waiting for past more than 12 years for completion of the bridge. We have only seen workers welding the iron slabs from years now. It is shame on part of Government that it has failed to provide us a proper connecting link and is paying no heed to our problems,” he said.
The bridge is vital for defence point of view as well as it connects Army’s Uri based 12 Brigade and forward posts where thousands of troops are deployed.
Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, Nissar Ahmad Naqash said that the construction of the bridge was delayed due to an issue with the construction company and there is no progress in its construction. “Due to an issue of design with the construction company, the project was delayed. In past, I held meetings with BRO and they informed me that the construction company did not follow their design and left the project at midway. Further, I don’t know the present status of the bridge. I don’t think there is any progress in it. But it has to be resolved as it is very important bridge,” he said.