Bandipora: The vital road stretch of Ajas-Bandipora which connects this north Kashmir district to Sumbal and Srinagar remains in dilapidated condition.
The authorities have failed to repair it despite spending centrally-allocated funds for the past many years.
The officials in Bandipora said that the World Bank would come to the rescue and approve the project in the pipeline soon to repair the 8-km stretch although the road stretch is over 15 km.
The Bandipora-Srinagar road has remained in the headlines for many years now due to its terrible condition and the failure of the successive regimes to restore its condition.
The road condition also recently triggered a meme with the creators taking a sarcastic jibe at the authorities for failing to repair the road.
“Over the decades, the authorities for working on the road have changed from the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) which neglected the road for many years to the Roads and Building (R&B) department who seem to be working at a snail’s pace, making unproductive use of the taxpayer’s money,” the aggrieved locals said.
The road was macadamised a few times but no major steps were taken for permanently repairing it until 2017 when it was approved under the Central Road Fund (CRF) in the Peoples Democratic Party-led government.
The project involved widening, drainage, walling and other works.
The move came after the youth launched back-to-back campaigns like better roads for Bandipora while the concerned politicians of the district protested in the Parliament.
Yet, after all these years, the locals said little had been achieved as the condition of the road had deteriorated so much that the commute on the road had become not only dangerous but also hit the trade sector including transporters.
At least 15 km of the stretch from Bandipora to Ajas has developed potholes making driving extremely dangerous as the larger part of the road cuts through the mountains with deep gorges and shooting stones also pose a threat, mostly during bad weather near the dangerous Churthung stretch.
With Sumbal to Srinagar stretch being comparatively better, the Sumbal to Bandipora road condition has always raised eyebrows for its worse condition with only some part of this stretch being renovated and macadamised over these years.
Similarly, for a young resident in Bandipora, who works at SKIMS, travel to home is hectic.
“I usually prefer staying at my rented accommodation and visiting home every two months,” Malik Gowhar said.
For most of the mini secretariat staff that lives in Srinagar and is posted at Bandipora, travelling on the road is cumbersome.
“They often reach late to work or get stuck when weather is bad, affecting smooth public deliverance,” an official said.
President of New Light Taxi Stand Bandipora, Abdul Rasheed said, “It’s hard to motivate drivers to operate on this road. Earlier, 50 to 60 passenger vehicles operated on the road but now hardly 20 to 30 vehicles ferry passengers.”
Rasheed said that they feel helpless when expecting mothers, elderly and sick having any emergency take over two hours to reach Srinagar, a distance of 60 kilometres.
Locals said that the decade-old issue had ruined the economic and tourist potential of the place and the Sumbal-Bandipora had been more a “story of broken promises”.
Talking to Greater Kashmir, Executive Engineer, R&B Bandipora, Abdul Qayoom said, “The project is under languishing projects, and it is being transferred from languishing to IDFC-aided project by the World Bank.”
Qayoom said that the grievances of the locals would be sorted within days.
“Some of the schemes have been transferred. One of these schemes is Sumbal-Bandipora road. The widening, walling and other works will move on under that project with a balance cost,” he said.
As per the officials, only 10 km of the road was repaired under the CRF and after that some of the work was done under the languishing project last year.
However, the payment could not be made due to some technical issues.
“The matter stands resolved now,” the officials said.
They said that though the project had been approved under the Word Bank, there were still formalities pending to get the loan amount sanctioned.