Work on Athwajan-Soiteng bridge goes on at snail’s pace


Despite passing of eight years, the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) has failed to complete Athwajan-Soiteng bridge here. 
Strong resentment is brewing among locals against inordinate delay in completion of the project.
Ghulam Hassan Bhat, a local said that the work on the project was started in 2010. “The government had assured us that the bridge would be completed in four years. In view of importance of the bridge, people living on two sides of Jhelum in the area extended cooperation to the authorities. Ironically, they have failed to complete the project within stipulated time,” he said.
Locals fear that due to snail’s pace of work on the project, the construction of the bridge will be delayed. The project has already missed several deadlines. After public pressure, authorities had re-fixed the deadline as December 2017 and then again extended it for few months.
“We feel disappointed to find that work on the bridge has been most often stalled and now is going on at snail’s pace. This bridge is under construction from past eight years,” said Ali Muhammad, a local of Syedabad Soiteng.
The locals urged government to direct concerned authorities to ensure completion of the bridge before the deadline.
“It has become a routine for some authorities to initiate a project, construct some pillars or plinth and then leave it halfway,” said Farooq Ahmad Wani, another local.
“It is because of non-seriousness of officials that Kashmir is losing race on various projects. It is unfortunate that government always extends deadlines rather than making officials accountable for their failure to complete projects on time,” said Irshad Ahmad of Lasjan.
He added that the locals had been running from pillar to post to seek completion of work at an earliest.
Official documents reveal that inordinate delay in construction of Soiteng-Vethpara bridge over Jhelum has escalated cost of the project from Rs 720 lakhs to Rs 1359 lakhs.
The construction of double lane bridge over river Jhelum at Soiteng was sanctioned under NAMBARD RIDF XV at a cost of Rs 720 lakhs and its execution was entrusted to JKPCC. 
“Presently, Soiteng residents take a boat ride to cross the river near Batwara. But with sunset, the facility goes off as the local army camp disallows the public movement in evening,” said Latief Ahmad, a local said. 
JKPCC managing director Viqar Mustafa Shunthu said that government has not released the required funds for the completion of project.
“We are waiting for the release Rs 4.50 crore from the government. We have taken up the matter and with concerned authorities. The project will be completed by the end of June 2018,” he said.

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