The Roads and Building department has been provided a meager Rs 20 crore for completing 255 bridges across the Valley.
The paltry financial assistance provided by the J&K government has left the department in a tight spot as majority of the engineers believe that given the cost of material, even completion of one bridge is impossible at the cost of Rs 20 Crore.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Chief Engineer R&B, Satish Razdan said that in absence of funds, the department has now listed 15 bridges as its priority. "It's understood, we can't complete, 255 brides for just Rs 20 Crore. We have now shortlisted 15 and work is going on all of them," he said.
Asked whether Rs 20 Crore were enough to complete 15 bridges, he said: "Till further financial assistance arrives, the department can manage the ongoing work on all the 15 brides across Kashmir. One thing is clear, no bridge would be completed till further adequate financial assistance is provided by the government," he said. "Our engineers and contractors can't sit idle, they have to work and we have ensured that work is going on."
He said that in the deadly deluge that struck Kashmir in 2014, 54 bridges got either washed away or were left completely damaged. "101 bridges suffered' partial damage in the floods. Wherever, minor repairs were supposed to be done, we did that out of the budget of the department," he said.
Sources in the R&B said that there were many reasons why government was slowly funding the department that is responsible for the huge developmental projects of bridges, roads, and almost all the government buildings across J&K. "The image of department wasn't good till 2014. Two of its engineers were booked under corruption cases. It's after long gap, that the department is coming back on tracks," a source in the department said.
He said that now that the department has got some honest engineers, government is likely to add in its annual budget besides providing it additional grants. Interestingly, the department is fully geared up to install belly bridges wherever necessary. Till now, it was the Army that was known for installing iron-bridges at certain places in Kashmir. "Basically, belly bridges are for emergency purpose and are used by defence forces in wars etc. But we installed the first one in Tankipora area of Srinagar just outside the office of Deputy Commissioner Srinagar," said Chief Engineer. "It was purely done by our engineers and today we have a series of such iron-bridges called belly bridges installed across Kashmir," he said.
An engineer said that the department is fully trained now to install and re-install these bridges. "Our engineers have successfully installed such bridges at various places in Kashmir. They can be easily re-installed," he said.