Kashmir Indepth

9 years on, Noorbagh-Qamarwari Bridge yet to be completed, 


‘Vital 500-bedded pediatric hospital also misses several deadlines’

Ishtiyaq Ahmad

Srinagar, Oct 22 (KINS): Despite the passing of nine years, Noorbagh-Qamarwari Bridge here in Srinagar is yet to be completed.

Similarly, even after elapsing over seven years, the vital 500-bedded pediatric hospital in Bemina area of Srinagar is awaiting completion.

The work on Noorbagh-Qamarwari Bridge was started in 2013. The project was scheduled to be completed in four years. However, the project has been facing inordinate delay.

The project is being executed by Roads and Buildings department Kashmir. Noorbagh-Qamarwari Bridge popularly known as the “Cement Bridge” has historical importance in the Valley as it was the first bridge over the river Jhelum, which was constructed in concrete.

Notably, the bridge is an important link as it connects the Old City, Soura and other areas with North Kashmir.

Sources told news agency KINS that over the years the construction was stopped as there were several reasons behind the stoppage of the work and that it took long to remove the bottlenecks.

Shabir Ahmad, a local, said that the local population from both sides of river Jhelum extended their cooperation to authorities for completion of the work.

“Work on this bridge is going on at snail’s pace,” he said.  The ongoing project has already missed several deadlines. Initially it was scheduled to be completed in 2014. Later, the deadline was extended upto March 2017 and then upto December 2018.

“It has become a routine for authorities to initiate a project, construct some pillars or plinths and then leave it half-way,” a local said.

The locals urged Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha to direct concerned authorities to ensure completion of the bridge without further delay.

One of the officials here in the roads and buildings told KINS that they were expecting that the bridge will be completed soon. “There were several issues, which took a long time to be rectified. The land issue was among the main bottlenecks that halted the work for a longer period.

“Many structures are to be removed and we are already on it,” he said.

Pertinently, the area where the bridge is being constructed is a congested place, thus simultaneously witnessing frequent traffic mess.

Meanwhile, after missing three consecutive deadlines in the past 7 years, the 500-bedded Pediatric hospital in Srinagar’s Bemina area is still awaiting its completion.

The work on the hospital which was proposed to be a 200-bedded maternity care facility initially was started in 2013 during the National Conference (NC) regime. However, former Chief Minister, Late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on October 17, 2015, gave it an extension and laid the foundation stone for 500-bedded Mother-Child Hospital.

However in 2019, the government accorded sanction to conversion of the 200-bedded Maternity Hospital and the 300 bedded Pediatric Hospital at Bemina, Srinagar into a full-fledged 500-bedded Children’s Hospital.

Sources in the Roads and Buildings (R&B) department said that till now three deadlines for its completion —one in 2014, second in 2017 and third in 2018—had been missed and yet there is no clarity as to when it will be ready.

Officials within the health department said that as per the performance of the Roads and Building department, the project is likely to miss more deadlines.

Officials at GB Pant also said that if the hospital will be completed at an earliest it will ease the burden on the GB Pant hospital.

“We have to manage patients in every nook and corner of Kashmir but if Bemina hospital is completed patients from parts of Kashmir will prefer there,” they said.

The officials of the R&B department told KINS that after the State Administrative Council (SAC) approval to the construction of a 500-bedded pediatric hospital at Bemina, they were expecting the completion of the work in the current year.

Officials said that once complete, the hospital would be under the management control of the Government Medical College, Srinagar. “The hospital will strengthen the pediatric care facilities in Kashmir division, ease the burden of patient load on the existing tertiary level hospital, and ensure quality maternity, neonatal and pediatric care to the patients” they said.

Sources said that as per the previous plan, the GB Pant Hospital, valley’s lone children’s hospital located in the Sonawar area, will be converted into a general hospital as the staff and paediatric facilities from there would be shifted to the new premises.

It is to mention here that The Administrative Council (AC) headed by Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha, recently gave fresh administrative approval to the construction of a 500-bedded pediatric hospital at Bemina, Srinagar.

“The project will be upgrading vital pediatric facilities on modern grounds and will be completed at an estimated cost of Rs. 114.81 crore. The new hospital will be equipped with all modern equipment for managing the high risk pediatric cases to further reduce the infant mortality rate,” the government has said.

It will also serve as the Centre of Excellence in Pediatrics in Kashmir Division and will assist the Union territory in mitigating a possible third wave of COVID-19 pandemic.(KINS)

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