Twin bridges over river Sind incomplete due to funds shortage

Suhail Bhat
SRINAGAR, Aug 17: Delay in the completion of two pivotal bridges over Sind river in Kangan area of Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district is troubling the residents of around six villages as the areas lack all-weather connectivity.
The construction work on the bridges was to be completed by April this year. However, Jammu and Kashmir Projects Corporation Company, the executing agency of the project, recently suspended all the work citing no-payment of funds. “Work was suspended due to shortage of funds,” an official of the JKPCC  said.
He informed that the Governor recently issued an order to take the project under CRF (Central Road Fund) along with other “languishing bridges” and have urged to complete the projects “on top priority”.
With a total project cost of Rs 8.81 crores for each bridge the construction work started in 2012 and was to be completed in four years, an official said. However, an official said, it was delayed due to two main issues; shortage of funds and protests by nearby villages against an alleged disparity of government in the allocation of the bridge.
The government sanctioned the bridges to connect two far-flung neighborhoods of Kangan- Akal, and Tangchater- to the Tehsil headquarters. Besides, the bridges would connect these villages to the Leh- Srinagar Highway. “The government’s failure to complete the project has dashed the hopes of nearly 5, 000 people living on the other side of river Sindh”,  residents  said.
They lamented in absence of the “much needed” connecting links and they have to use dangerous makeshift bridges to reach the other side as the area sans an alternative route. “Everyone here is scared to walk across the damaged bridge, but they have no other option. The bridge is particularly dangerous in rainy season as the river swells. The wet surface makes it slippery and a person can fall into the gushing waters of the river,” Mohammad Adil, a local said, adding that the rickety bridges are a  death trap and everyday people here have to defy death to cross the river.
Residents said that they have demanded the authorities to build the bridge, but little action has been taken. “We have repeatedly staged protests and blocked the Srinagar- Leh Highway but to no avail”, Abdul Rasheed, a local of Tangchater said.
Soon after the construction work on the Akhal Bridge started the residents of Tangchater demanded the construction of a similar type of bridge in their area and moved to the court. The court issued the order in their favor. “The Court directed us to construct both the bridges together and we have to comply”, an official said, adding it affected the flow of funds as both the bridges got an equal share.
General Manager JKPCC Bashir Ahmad War, when contacted said that the project was delayed due to a paucity of funds and both the bridges would be completed by the end of December. “We will hopefully complete the project by the end of April next year as the Governor has already announced to put such bridges under CRF,” he said, adding they were awaiting the formal orders of Governor for the starting the work.