Slow pace of work delays completion of Qamarwari bridge in Srinagar

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, Aug 3: Qamarwari Bridge extension project in Srinagar, a crucial link for the city, is experiencing significant delays, with officials attributing the slow pace of work to financial constraints faced by the contractors, casting doubt on its timely completion.
The existing bridge, popularly known as the “Cement Bridge,” holds historical importance as the first concrete bridge constructed over the Jhelum River in the Valley. However, it has become a major source of inconvenience for commuters due to frequent traffic jams in the congested Qamarwari area of Srinagar.
In 2011, recognising the need to address the massive traffic congestion and accommodate the increasing flow of vehicles, a new 127-metres bridge was sanctioned adjacent to the existing one. Unfortunately, despite nearly 12 years having passed, the bridge remains incomplete, missing several deadlines over the years. The bridge plays a crucial role in connecting the Old City, Soura, Hazratbal, and Ganderbal areas with north Kashmir, Qamarwari and Batamaloo.
An official privy to the details said that the project has faced numerous setbacks and delays for various reasons, including the devastating floods of 2014, land acquisition issues, and the presence of a Mosque near the construction area. “These challenges have impacted the funding and progress of the project, causing it to languish over time,” he said.
He added that one of the major hurdles was the prolonged deadlock over the relocation of a local mosque, which stood in the way of construction. “However, after years of negotiations, the Muslim community in the area finally reached an agreement to relocate the 40-year-old Masjid to pave the way for the long-awaited bridge over Jhelum in Srinagar,” he said.
As the completion of the Qamarwari bridge project remains uncertain, commuters and residents are hoping for swift action from the Government and a concerted effort from all stakeholders to expedite the construction.
“It has been a long time since the construction work on the bridge started, but the work has been dragging on due to an indifferent attitude from the previous Governments. Now we hope the current LG administration comes to our rescue by completing the project,” Nazir Ahmad, a local, said, adding that the patients from North Kashmir travelling to SKIMS Soura for treatment have been severely affected by the frequent traffic jams in the area.
Chief Engineer of Roads and Buildings, Rafiq Ahmad, while acknowledging a slight delay in the Qamarwari bridge project, said they are diligently pushing the contractor to accelerate the work. “We are well aware of the importance of the Qamarwari bridge project for the city, and we understand the inconvenience caused to the commuters due to the delays. We have been closely monitoring the progress and have been in constant communication with the contractor to ensure they meet the timelines,” he said.
He mentioned that despite the challenges faced during the construction process, they are optimistic about completing the bridge soon. “Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we are aiming to have the Qamarwari bridge fully operational by the end of August or, at the latest, by September,” he said.