61-year-old wooden bridge over Neeru River in Bhaderwah poses threat to villagers

Kids using a worn out foot bridge to cross Neeru River in Bhaderwah by risking their lives. -Excelsior/Tilak Raj
Kids using a worn out foot bridge to cross Neeru River in Bhaderwah by risking their lives. -Excelsior/Tilak Raj

Excelsior Correspondent
DODA, July 17: A 61-year-old wooden bridge over Neeru River in Bhaderwah, which connects half a dozen villages to Bhaderwah town is posing risk to the commuters who use it every day.
As many as 2000 people including school going students and elderly people from 6 villages – Rainda, Dhumanda, Dalain, Thubba, Wazir Kotli and Chabcha, have no other option, but to depend on a man-made wooden bridge built in 1962 using Cedar timber and wood planks from the jungle, across the Neeru stream, for their daily travel.
The area has been receiving continuous heavy rain and the water level of the stream is also rising. The worn out wooden bridge, which is approximately 38 m in length and 1m in width, is built across Neeru stream at Rainda village just 1 km from Bhaderwah town.
Joginder Kumar (70), a local, said that for 20 years, the villagers have been demanding a bridge. The Rainda village is located in Sadar Panchayat and there are 6 villages across river, with about 2000 population. These people use this bridge to reach Bhaderwah town for their daily requirements including ration, schools, offices, college and University.
“During last two decades, authorities of R&B (Roads and Buildings) department carried out survey of the bridge at least 50 times, every time rekindling the hope that now we will get a safe bridge but unfortunately all the surveys and promises turned out to be a fluke,” said Krishan Sharma (68), a resident of village Rainda. He said if the bridge is not mended immediately, we will hit the streets.
When contacted AEE R&B Bhaderwah Mushtaq Ahmed Sheikh said, “Indeed the old wooden bridge is in very bad condition and we have already send a project to NABARD worth 215 lakh to replace the worn out foot bridge with motorable bridge.”
“The issue is on top priority of the District administration considering the safety of the people. We will send a team of engineers for safety check and if necessary, the bridge will be closed for movement of people. Till then, my request to residents is to avoid crossing the bridge and use instead Sarol Bag Bridge to cross the river,” Sheikh added.