‘Illegal dredging’ causes collapse of Mehjoor Nagar bridge, locals allege; Officials refute

Mohmad Faisal

Srinagar

KL Image

The Mehjoor Nagar Bridge has been closed for all types of vehicular movement as one of its supporting pillars have collapsed.

Authorities declared it unsafe for all the vehicular as well as pedestrian movement fearing its complete collapse.

The bridge was notified unsafe well before 3 years by the authorities but still it was used for the vehicular movement by the traffic department. Due to the construction of the flyover from Jahangir Chowk to Ram Bagh most of the traffic used to ply through this bridge.

The bridge connects Syed Abad Soiteng, Lasjan, Padshahibagh, Gandbal, Vethpora, Bagander and its adjacent areas with the city-centre. Hundreds of commuters were left stranded on Tuesday after they found bridge closed.

The closure also caused a massive traffic jam at Padshahibagh, Rambagh, Jawahar Nagar and other adjacent areas.

A commuter while taking to Kashmir life said that he travels daily using this route and it would take him 5 minutes to reach his office. But, he said, now it will take more than half an hour or more depending on the traffic to reach his office.

A taxi driver added that they used to take customers through this route while it would cost less to customers. However, now we have no customers because the cost and the distance have gone up.

Locals at Syed Abad Soiteng, Lasjan and other adjacent areas held peaceful protests, giving authorities ultimatum of 24 hours to re-open the bridge or complete the under-construction bridge within next 48 hours.

Kashmir life also learned that the collapse of supporting pillars was caused due to the dredging of silt from the base of the bridge, 5 months ago by the Flood and Irrigation Department while it is against the guidelines to de-silt near the bridge.

A local informed that they had contacted the SHOs of Rajbagh and Baghat Police station about the “illegal” dredging from the base of the bridge but were ignored.

However, Chief Engineer, Flood Control and Irrigation department, Muhammad Hanief Lone while talking to Kashmir Life refuted the claims and said that the collapse of the bridge had nothing to do with the de-silting process. “The bridge was already declared unsafe for all types of vehicular movement 2 years ago,” he told Kashmir Life.

People demanded that action should be taken against the contractor and the bridge should be immediately repaired as it is the short way to connect to the city. Thousands of people travel via this route more importantly in emergency cases it is the nearest way for the patients to reach hospitals, locals said.

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