Flyover Fiasco: Kashmir’s Longest Flyover Stuck In Paperwork

Flyover Fiasco: Kashmir’s Longest Flyover Stuck In Paperwork

31 March 2013
Rising Kashmir
Asem Mohiuddin

Srinagar: Even as Asian Development Bank (ADB) has set a tight deadline for the completion of the much-touted flyover on the busy Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh route, the confrontation between the authorities and the affected shopkeepers over their relocation keeps the project grounded. Sources told Rising Kashmir the work on the project would not be started unless the government sorts out relocation matter with affected shopkeepers amicably. Officials fear that in case the issue continues to linger, the project would suffer major setback in the form of cost overruns. The project worth Rs 300 crores, fully funded by ADB, is scheduled to be completed in three years time to avoid cost overrun. The flyover is touted as a panacea to the prevailing traffic chaos in Srinagar city. According to Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Shailendra Kumar, the shopkeepers have been offered shops at prime land near Kashmir Haat, “but they are adamant on their demand which is a major concern for the government”. “Few dozen shopkeepers who will be affected by the execution of the flyover work are provided shops in commercial complex being constructed near Kashmir Haat with all modern facilities. But they refuse to shift. They (shopkeepers) are all demanding a front line shop which is practically impossible. They hold the entire population to ransom,” he said. He urged the civil society to persuade these shopkeepers to ensure timely completion of the project for the larger interests of people. However, documents available with Rising Kashmir reveal that the government is yet to settle over a dozen private and government disputes of properties to be acquired by Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA) for the project. The documents suggest that the slow pace of progress by state owned Jammu and Kashmir Project Constructions Corporation Limited (JKPCC) in constructing the rehabilitation complexes and relocation of at least 90 shopkeepers is a major reason for the delay in executing the work on the flyover. There are many cases of land acquisition and rehabilitation pending with District Level Committee (DLC). Another setback to the execution of the project is reluctance of shopkeepers of Hari Singh High Street and estates building Magarmal Bagh in getting relocated at commercial complex at Jahangir Chowk. Sources said the government shall organize at least four DLC meetings every month instead of one presently to sort out the issues for speedy completion of the project. Interestingly, although almost all the decks for the mega project have been cleared by the concerned executive agency, the major stumbling block on government’s part is its rehabilitation programme. The first deadline, documents suggest, for resettlement and land acquisition was December 2011 for 100 shopkeepers which was later revised to March 2012. “Despite missing two timelines for resettlement already, the issues still remain unresolved.” Attempting to maintain pace for the project, ERA has already disbursed Rs 60 crore on compensation, construction of rehabilitation complexes and utility shifting component. BENEFITS OF FLYOVER The valley’s longest (2.5 kilometer) flyover would be constructed over 37 kanals of land of which government is providing over 26 kanals. As per the proposal, the flyover which will have take off point at Jahangir Chowk will shorten the travel distance to Rambagh from average 8 to 2 minutes. It will also solve unending traffic jams at this crucial junction. “In this summer capital of state, all major government, commercial and transport terminals are located in the Central Business District extending from Dal Gate to Batamaloo and passes through Jahangir Chowk. Airport road also meets at Jahangir Chowk perpendicularly. Location of High Court and Secretariat also makes this intersection important in a road network of city,” reads the proposal. The project was conceptualized in November 2009 in a meeting presided over by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah aiming to decongest the traffic congestion in the city. The flyover will pass through crucial areas like Magarmal Bagh, Solina, Rambagh and will have two points of culmination and would allow around four vehicles on one way given to carriageway width of 7.5metre on each side. The project would have life span of half a century.