Incomplete Jhajjar Bridge

Jammu and Kashmir has faced many infrastructure challenges over the years due to various factors such as natural disasters, political unrest and limited resources. In the past, there have been reports of several bridges and roads being left incomplete or in disrepair in Jammu and Kashmir. The reasons for this can vary, ranging from inadequate funding and lack of resources to corruption and mismanagement. Additionally, ongoing conflicts in the region have also contributed to the difficulties in completing infrastructure projects. But the bridge in question is a span motorable bridge at Jhajjar Nallah at Kakryal. This 160- meter double lane span bridge over Jhajjar Nallah on Panthal to Jhajjar Road via SMVD University at the take-off point at Jhajjar, is for connectivity to Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Narayana Hospital and several villages in the vicinity. The foundation stone was laid in 2018 with a time limit of 24 months for completion. But five years later, except for the pillars, little has been done. In reality, the contractor has abandoned the work and despite repeated reminders from the Roads and Buildings Department, the contractor has not resumed the work. Even District administration intervention has not yielded the desired result. This bridge was sanctioned under the Central Road Fund (CRF) and many such projects are stalled as funds have lapsed. Five years have gone and the department is still unable to cancel the contract and retender it for reasons better known to the department. The matter is serious and requires proper investigation. What were the penalty clauses in the contract? Why is the department so lenient towards the contractor and were there enough safeguards in tender clauses? All these relevant questions have to be answered by the department. Despite so many conferences being held at SMVDU and even visits of the President and PM for convocation and still, this vital link has been a victim of departmental apathy.
On the one hand, the administration is putting all-out efforts to meet the deadlines to complete almost 70,000 projects with a record number of roads, bridges and tunnels and on other hand, certain elements in the department are least bothered about the completion of even five-year-old projects. Time and again these types of complacencies have been highlighted but no action has been taken against the erring department and officials. With time, grants are being denied, costs are escalating, and the result is incomplete projects with precious taxpayer money going wasted. With e-Governance successfully implemented in the UT of Jammu and Kashmir, the administration should seriously consider directing departments to upload all incomplete projects with complete details of the delays. A proper audit of all projects, including those that have been abandoned, must be conducted. After the consolidation of the record for all pending works a proper estimate with cost escalations must be sent to the finance department for the necessary fund approvals. All these projects are of the utmost importance and the administration must ensure time schedules are adhered to. All reasons for delays like limited resources, political instability, natural disasters, security issues, corruption and mismanagement are things of the past. The present administration, with consistent efforts and enough budgetary support, is trying to complete long pending mega and small projects. Many efforts have been made to improve infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir over the years, and progress has been made in several areas. Various government organizations have undertaken initiatives to improve road and bridge networks in the region, to increase connectivity and promote economic development. Hundreds of crores have been spent to establish hospital and university but basic connectivity is missing. The administration has to look into the matter of the present bridge in question and ensure that work starts without further delay. Stumbling blocks, if any must be removed through the proper channels.