The Gujjar population staying on the banks of the Tawi have demanded a high-level inquiry into the construction of the fourth bridge, which had been damaged in the floods on September 6.
They alleged that substandard material was used in the construction of the bridge. Dozens of houses in the Tawi riverbed had been washed away following damage of the bridge.
Hundreds of Gujjars living on the banks of the Tawi near the bridge claimed that they had lost their houses because of damage to the bridge. They were now staying in tents provided by the Army. The Army was providing them food as well.
Rehmat Ali, a dairy farmer, has lost his double-storey house in the floods. “The engineers who constructed the bridge should be punished. We have lost our houses because of poor quality of the bridge,” he said.
“Water entered our houses at the time of floods, but could not damage the structures. Those were damaged due to the bridge,” he added.
A portion of the bridge on the Tawi connecting Bhagwati Nagar and Belicharana was washed away.
At a press conference in Jammu the same day, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said, “The bridge was damaged due to soil erosion on the banks of the river. There is no need for an inquiry.”
Mohammad Farooq Malik of Belichcrana said, “This bridge is an example of corruption prevailing in the government. It was constructed when the Roads and Buildings Ministry was with the Chief Minister.”
He had lost his double-storey house and three heads of cattle. He alleged that corrupt engineers had used substandard material to construct the bridge.
“A high-level inquiry should be conducted to find out the reason for the damage. If other bridges are safe, why has the newly constructed bridge been damaged?” he asked.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah inaugurated the bridge on May 26 last year. It had been built at a cost of Rs 89.05 crore.