Sand Extraction Beneath Sumbal Bridge Poses Threat of Collapse

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

Sumbal bridge that connects Srinagar with Leh, Bandipora, Kangan and Gurez is on the verge of “collapse” as in the garb of dredging sand under the bridge is being extracted illegally during night hours.

Locals alleged that a contractor in league with a top official of Irrigation and Flood Control Department has been violating all the norms to make quick bucks.

Reports said that clear cut directions have been given to the contractors undertaking the dredging work in the River Jehlum not to extract sand beneath any bridge. “A contractor is supposed to extract sand and other material 500 feet away from any bridge but in Sumbal the case is different. As the night falls, the contractor uses his workers and machinery to extract sand under the bridge. A tipper loaded with sand costs Rs 7,000 in the open market and the said contractors uses these tippers whole night to ferry sand to different directions,” the locals from Sumbal area told CNS.

They claimed that on the night of January 26, people caught the contractor red handed while extracting the sand under the bridge. “This contractor enjoys the patronage of a top Irrigation and Flood Control Department officials and that is why he easily violates the norms set by the department,” they said adding that the bridge is on the “verge of collapse” and if this illegal extraction of sand continues in the garb of dredging, this age old bridge will become a history.

Locals added that this is not the case in Sumbal only but the illegal extraction of sand during night hours also goes unabated in Baharabad, Hajin and Asham areas of North Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

The said contractor (name withheld) termed the allegations baseless and said that it is an attempt to malign his image while Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Javaid Jaffar said that he will send a team to look into the matter. “It is a serious issue and if allegations are proven correct stern action will be taken against the contractor,” he said.

Sub-Division Magistrate Sumbal Ghulam Muhammad Bhat said that he will personally along with a police team visit the spot to ascertain the facts.

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