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Phase I of uptown flyover opened for traffic

Hirra Azmat

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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.


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Kashmir

RTI Act not being implemented in true spirit: SIC

Bisma Bhat

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Srinagar, March 20: The State Information Commission (SIC) on Wednesday agreed that there were loopholes in public information deliverance system.

The Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 came into force on 20 March 2009, repealing and replacing the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2004 is not been implemented and followed by the authority in a professional manner.

On eve of 10th anniversary of RTI Act Jammu and Kashmir, Commissioner, SIC, Mohammad Ashraf Mir discussed various “deficiencies, weaknesses” that are responsible for the modest implementation of Act.

 

Mir said that RTI act is not been taken strictly by the authorities. “We know that the Act is not implemented the way it was designed to be implemented,” he accepted.

Mir said that they know that the government and its instrumentalities love to take credit of RTI Act but are reluctant to submit to its laws.

Moreover, the department is not professionally trained to deal with the dissemination of information.
“The public information officers (PIOs) in government departments are still not well versed with the work, resulting to denial of information to applicants,” said Mir.

He added that this powerful tool of right to get information is sometimes being misused in the hands of citizens also. “The information sought under the act is not be used in the manner it ought to be used.”

Mir said that there is a lack of awareness among the citizens who ought to use the RTI to get the required information, adding that the NOG’s and the social activists who are veterans of the RTI should educate the people on the procedure to file the RTI and be more specific.

Besides all these deficiencies, the record keeping in the entire government departments is in shambles. Mir said that the poor digitization of records in all the government departments act as the wall stone for disseminating the information.

Chairman Jammu and Kashmir RTI movement, Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool showed some light on the struggle to pass the Act in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr. Rasool said, “The founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act is Late Balraj Puri and Advocate Irfan Hafiz lone.”

He said that J&K RTI was earlier passed in 2004 but it was very week and lacked various laws and regulations. “We formed J&K RTI movement which established the Act in 2009.”
The event was held at Kashmir University by J&K RTI Movement in collaboration with Center of Central Asian Studies.

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JK Assembly polls: EC observer team yet to submit its report to CEC: CEO

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Mar 20: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar on Wednesday said that the three member team of election observers appointed for Jammu and Kashmir is yet to submit its report to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and any decision on the conduct of assembly elections in the state will be taken after ECI’s consultation with the Union Home Ministry on additional security deployments for assembly polls in the state.
CEO Shailendra Kumar said, “The three member team of election observers which recently visited Jammu and Kashmir to reassess the situation for conduct of assembly elections in the state has not submitted its report to
Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora yet but will be submitted to the election commission of India very soon. A decision on holding assembly elections will be taken by election commission of India only after consultations with the union home ministry on the timing of assembly elections in the state.”
On March 14, three member team of observers appointed by the Election Commission of India arrived Srinagar to meet the political parties and “assess the feasibility” for holding the assembly elections in J&K.
Upon their arrival, the team drove to the Lalit hotel located on the upscale Gupkar Road where they will hold one-on-one meetings with the regional parties for discussing the timing and phasing of the state assembly polls.
The ECI had appointed former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad, and former IPS officer A S Gill, as special observers to assess the feasibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to their mandate, the observers would make a real-time assessment of the situation by meeting political parties, district and state authorities and other stakeholders, and discuss modalities for holding the assembly elections.
The ECI’s decision to not hold the assembly elections simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir has sparked a massive uproar with the regional political parties like National Conference and People’s Democratic Party accusing the Centre of “eroding the democratic set-up” in the state.
However, sources in the government said it is “impossible” to hold the state assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections given the deteriorating security situation in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing.
“For holding Lok Sabha polls for Baramulla constituency alone, we need 400 companies of central paramilitary forces. If assembly polls are held simultaneously, it will require massive deployment. We can’t compromise on security,” a top government officer said.

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ERA initiates blacklisting of defaulting contractors

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Srinagar, Mar 20: J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (JKERA) has initiated the process of blacklisting/debarment of contractors who had violated various contract conditions in 12 contract packages under ADB Loan I and Loan II.
As per an official communiqué issued here, CEO ERA, Dr. Raghav Langer said that the FIDIC contract agreement conditions clearly defines every term and condition for execution of contracts and the procedure for blacklisting and debarment of defaulting contractors.
He further added that ERA has accordingly initiated the process of blacklisting and debarment of contractors, under J&K Registration of Contractor Act 1956 in case there were inordinate delays thereby depriving public of intended benefits and causing huge loss to state exchequer, structural faults, corrupt and fraudulent practices, misrepresentation, indulging in false claims under arbitration, nonperformance, abandoning of works etc.
The CEO reiterated the need for professional management of contracts and said that erring contractors of J&K ERA under previously executed Road Projects, Flyovers Project, Sewerage and Water Supply Schemes, Dewatering and Drainage Schemes in Jammu & Kashmir regions have been issued notices which shall be confirmed by adopting the due process.
The removal of name from Register under Act No. 6 of 1956 sub-clause 5 shall there by prevent them from participating in any future contracts in the State of J&K.

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