By Hirra Azmat
Srinagar, May 11: Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti threw open the first phase of Jehangir Chowk-Rambagh Expressway Corridor from Amar Singh College to Barzulla bridge here on Friday.
The opening of first phase, which came after many missed deadlines, might come as a short-term relief to commuters, but the overall project completion is still a distant dream.
Announced in 2009, the construction of the flyover, funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at an estimated cost of Rs 359 crore, began in 2013, with September 2016 set as the first deadline.
The then-chief minister, Omar Abdullah, had laid the foundation of the flyover.
In the last nine years, the project has become a saga of unending deadlines, giving a tough time to thousands of commuters.
Among the many missed deadlines, last year December 31 was set by the government for the completion of phase I of the flyover — from Tulsi Bagh to Barzulla Bridge.
However, the Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency (JKERA), which is executing the project, had said it would be thrown open for traffic by mid-February 2018.
Later on, the opening of the phase I of the flyover got deferred to May.
The factors for the inordinate delay are as numerous as the deadlines.
To name a few, the floods of 2014 to 2016 unrest in Kashmir to tussle with shopkeepers in the area to authorities blaming the inclement weather to non-payment of money to contractors, and non-availability of outstation workers to carry on the iron work.
The second phase of the flyover, longest in Kashmir spanning a total length of 1.64 kilometres, is expected to be completed by the end of this year, officials said.
The residents said they would still face inconveniences till the second phase is not completed.
“The feeling was that of relief and sadness. Relief that at least some part of the project is complete, yet sadness that the project is taking so long to progress and it will be ages till the second phase will be made functional,” said Wasim Bhat, a resident of Chanapora.
“I am afraid the opening of phase one will not benefit me much. The journey to home will still be an ordeal as I have to take the route beneath the flyover. It would have been a success if both the phases were completed in time,” Shahid Ahmad, also a resident, said.
In view of the incompletion of the second phase, the Traffic Department has issued an advisory to ensure smooth flow of traffic.
As per the advisory issued by the Traffic Police Srinagar, Phase I of the Flyover shall be for “one way traffic”.
“Commuters travelling to Budgam, Hyderpora, Rawalpora, Baghat, Barzulla, and Airport can use the flyover for commuting. However, the commuters travelling to Chanapora and Natipora shall adopt Rambagh Bridge beneath Flyover,” reads the advisory.
Being built at a cost of Rs. 350 crore, the ADB funded project would hugely decongest the traffic on the road towards Barzalla and Srinagar Airport and the time to cover the area would also be reduced by a great measure.
The Natipora limb of the project is going to be made trafficable within two months and the whole 4-lane flyover spanning more than one and a half kilometres would be made functional by the year end.