10 years on, Athwajan-Vethpora bridge awaits completion

Despite passing of over a decade, the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) has failed to complete Athwajan-Vethpora bridge here.

The project is almost complete but for the past three years, the authorities have failed to join expansion joints and construct approach roads to make it functional for public use.

Strong resentment is brewing among locals against inordinate delay in completion of the project.

Ghulam Hassan 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 the importance of the bridge, people living on two sides of the Jhelum in the area extended cooperation to the authorities. Ironically, they failed to complete the project within stipulated time,” he said.

Currently, the work on the project remains suspended. The project has already missed several deadlines. After public pressure, the authorities had re-fixed the deadline as December 2017 and then again extended it by few months.  “The bridge is under construction for the past ten years,” said Farooq Ahmad Wani of Syedabad Soiteng.

The locals urged the government to direct the authorities concerned to ensure completion of the bridge at the earliest.

“It has become a routine for some authorities to initiate a project, and then ‘forget’ to complete it,” said Bilal Ahmad, another local.

Official documents reveal that inordinate delay in the project has escalated its cost from Rs 720 lakh to Rs 1359 lakh.  The construction of double lane bridge was sanctioned under NAMBARD RIDF XV and its execution was entrusted to JKPCC.

JKPCC authorities said that work is at standstill due to lack of funds. “Government has released the funds but they have not reached the treasury in absence of administrative approval,” said an official of JKPCC.

He said that they are pursuing the case. “It will take us just one week to complete the project after the funds are approved by the administrative department,” he said while replying to a query.