Bridge on road to SMVDU, Narayana Hospital awaits completion

Pillars of the span bridge, work on which has been left halfway by the contractor.
Pillars of the span bridge, work on which has been left halfway by the contractor.

Govt mulls action against erring contractor

Nishikant Khajuria

JAMMU, Mar 27: Even after more than five years since commencement of construction work, a span motorable bridge at Jhajjar Nallah near Katra for connectivity to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Narayana Hospital and several villages in the vicinity, is still awaiting its completion.
Foundation stone of this 160- meter double lane span bridge over Jhajjar Nallah on Panthal to Jhajjar Road via SMVD University road at take- off point at Jhajjar, was laid by then Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the presence of Minister for Public Works, Naeem Akhter, MoS PWD(R&B), Sunil Sharma, MoS Finance Ajay Nanda and others on February 21, 2018.
To be constructed at the cost of Rs 20 crores in two years, i.e. by February 2020, the bridge is still awaiting its completion till date as the work is lying stopped after foundation and construction of a part of sub-structure, including pillars.
The Contractor is learnt to have left the work halfway citing the reason of cost escalation even as the district Administration and Department of Public Works (R&B) have been repeatedly issuing notices to the erring contractor.
Once completed, the bridge would have reduced the distance of SMVD University and Narayana Hospital along with half a dozen villages from the Jammu-Udhampur National Highway by two kilometers. Due to prolonged delay in completion of this much required double lane motorable bridge, a narrow road with makeshift bridge is the only access to the university, Narayana Hospital and these villages.
According to the official sources, construction of this bridge was sanctioned under Central Road Fund (CRF) but work on the same along with several other projects came to standstill following stoppage of additional funds to J&K by the Union Government over the issue of land acquisition cases under the scheme.
After remaining stalled for some time, the work on this bridge was taken up for completion under languishing projects. However, the project failed to take off even under languishing projects as the Contractor refused to complete the work claiming cost escalation, particularly steep hike in prices of steel, which is used in superstructure of the bridge.
Pertinent to mention that superstructure is that part of the bridge which is mounted on the supporting system (substructure) for traffic and includes deck, slab and girders.
Following stoppage of the work, sources said that the Department of Public Works and the District administration have been issuing notices to the Contractor for completion of the project but all in vain even as a show cause notice warning action under CrPC by the Deputy Commissioner Reasi was also served recently.
When contacted, Chief Engineer PWD(R&B) P C Kannouj told the Excelsior that the department was mulling termination of the contract and issue fresh tender for the pending work.
“Final notice has been served and we are working out modalities for termination of the contract besides blacklisting the contractor and forfeiting his CDR deposited with the department,” said the Chief Engineer, adding that fresh tender for completion for the work is likely to be issued soon.