Aqib Ali

Srinagar, Aug 11: The Jammu and Kashmir high court on Friday gave green signal with a rider for the construction of skewed bridge over river Jhelum near Rajbagh here.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench of the court comprising Chief Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey, however, said that the same shall be subject to opinion of amicus curie in the PIL.

According to Kashmir Glory, the High Court passed the direction after perusal of a detailed report from J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) underlining that site was not feasible for vehicular bridge.

Advocate R A Jan, the amicus curie, sought week’s time to prove with the help of engineers from outside that the report of JKERA is not correct and court granted him time, but directed the authorities to ‘go ahead’ with the proposal of construction of pedestrian bridge on the site with the rider that the same be subject to opinion of amicus to the PIL.

Previously, 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.