Wounded Roads

The major drainage and road construction projects have left the city roads in disarray causing frequent traffic snarls however, some people say that are ready to bear the inconvenience for a better tomorrow. Syed Asma reports.

The signboards “Caution, Men at work” are found at almost all the roads in Srinagar. The work-in-progress signboards make the motorists take alternate roads or diversions, hampering the movement of traffic badly. These signboards have been on the roads for last couple of years. Almost all roads of Srinagar city are dug up for construction of drainage or water supply schemes.

Presently, two big drainage projects are being constructed in the city. One is looked after by National Building Construction Company (NBCC) and another is handled by Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA). The reputed construction companies were roped in to finish the projects on toime with moinimal cost and time overruns and to avoid causing inconvenience to the people.

“We have a rough road for last four years now and nobody is bothered to check its condition. We just see bull dozers coming and going.  We have to suffer hard during winters and rains,” says Abdul Ahad, a resident of Lal Bazar, “Many times we have to call up cranes to recover our cars which slip into ditches and inadequately filled up roads.”

However, some people believe that the ‘small’ inconvenience will bring long term relief in the form of better civic amenities and roads.

The NBCC is taking care of the drainage of Zone III of Srinagar city that caters to the area from Noorbagh to Dalgate and from Dalgate to Buchpora. The project is worth 132.92 crores. Its plans includes construction of main trunk (main roads) sewage for the length of 50 kilometers and lateral (sub- links) for about 90 km. The sewage of the area will be treated at Wanganpora, Noorbagh.

The project that was started five years ago, has missed several deadlines. “We know we are going at a snail’s speed but we too have our limitations, central government had promised us to give money in installments and had put some condition which the state government had to fulfill but it seems that there is some confusion going on between the two governments. Precisely, we have not been given our second instalment. NBCC had to spend from its own pocket. We have only received 32.89 crores from the government,” shares a top official of NBCC, requesting not to be named, “despite repeated requests, the governments are doing nothing”.

The road to the only tertiary care hospital of the Valley from Hawal side is also in shambles. Though many exercises of spreading bajri (pebbles) and crusher dust have been done but the process has never been completed.

“They are presently laying bajri, last year too they did this but it could not even survive one rainy day, so I think this exercise is futile unless they do it properly and completely,” says Abdul Majeed, a shopkeeper at Hawal.

Apart from creating inconvenience for locals, patients are also suffering badly. “Potholes, lumps, unorganized roads create a problem for patients, it is a common sense!”says Bashir Ahmed, an ambulance driver at SKIMS, “It is not only the Hawal road which is in bad condition but another road connecting SKIMS hospital with Lal chowk – Ali Jan Road – is also in same condition, making the patients suffer,” he added.

Another major drainage project being executed by ERA has also left many roads dug up causing traffic snarls and large scale public inconvenience. The drainage project runs along the airport road causing lot of problems of in the tourist season. “Yes we know it is the airport road, we think from 20th of this month the road will be restored,” says Mohammed Azhar, Public Relations Officer ERA.

The drainage project worth more than Rs 100 crore caters to the area from Rawalpora to Tengapora, Puhuru Chowk to Chanapora and Bemina Chowk to Parimpora.
Apart from Airport road, the tourist hub of the city – Boulevard Road – is also dug up in bits and pieces. At some places footpaths are being renovated, some patches are getting macadamized and at some places roads are being dug up, causing inconvenience to the tourists. The tourism industry was badly affected during the last two decades, this year the authorities and people associated with trade are expecting record tourist arrivals but bad roads may play spoilsport.

“We have not created any inconvenience to anybody; we have to do our work. This season is best for works like macadamization etc,” says Nasir Ahmed, executive engineer, Department of Roads and buildings, “and I do not think they (tourists) come here to see roads, they have good roads at their places”.

The ERA has started the project in late 2007. ERA is being assigned much bigger project of up gradation of the basic infra structure of the Valley. “We have been assigned the job of general up-gradation of the state’s infrastructure,” says Azhar, “State budget could not suffice the demands of (repairing) poor infrastructure and the damage caused by the turmoil so ERA is taking care of it”.
These projects are funded by Asian Development Bank (ADB).

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