HC green signal with rider to construct skewed bridge

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Srinagar—The Jammu and Kashmir high court on Friday gave green signal to the government to construct the skewed bridge over river Jhelum near Rajbagh here.

However, a division bench of Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey subject it to opinion of amicus curie.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, court passed the direction after perusal of a detailed report from J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA), stating that the site was feasible for pedestrian bridge and not the vehicular bridge, cleared during the previous government headed by NC’s Omar Abdullah.

Advocate R A Jan, the amicus curie, however opposed the ERA’s report and sought week’s time to prove with the help of engineers from outside that the report was incorrect.

The court granted the time but directed the authorities to ‘go ahead’ with the proposal of construction of pedestrian bridge on the site with the rider that it shall be subject to opinion of amicus curie.

In April this year, the High Court ordered government to construct skewed and not the footbridge over Jhelum.

In so for as Skewed bridge was concerned, the court had directed the authorities to proceed ahead with the construction as per original plan of 1981 by completing it and throwing it open for the traffic.

On 24 October 2013, the high court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation filed by advocate Aftab Hilali Shah and others in which a claim was made that the skewed bridge was contrary to public interest and would adversely affect the environment and the security of the children studying in the school.

Interestingly, the government in an affidavit had stated that the project was approved by it on 13.10.1981 for ‘Improvement to Road Communication System in Srinagar City’. Besides the skewed bridge, the project envisaged construction of new roads and improvement, up-gradation and widening of some existing roads.

“In the Master Plan 1971-91 for the city, there was vision for the North-South corridor connecting the southern parts of the city with the core and northern areas and decision was taken by the Government to construct a 2-Lane Abdullah Bridge connecting TRC with Rajbagh. The bridge has only a two lane approach on the Rajbagh side”.

Advocate General Jahangir Iqbal Ganie submitted that Government has to change its plan in view of 2014 floods. He said the bridge was approved for vehicular movement but devastating floods changed the scenario and “compelled” the authorities to change its nature. He said that the NOCs obtained for construction of vehicular bridge, from various departments, were also withdrawn the floods.

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