Without providing people any alternative, authorities in an anti-people move bulldozed Mehjoor Nagar bridge, closing it for vehicular movement, the move that angered thousands of people residing in different areas including Mehjoor Nagar, Natipora, Syed Abad Soiteng, Lasjan, Padshahibagh, KP Bagh, and other areas.
The bulldozing of a portion of the bridge has made it unable to travel on, thus disconnecting all these areas from the city centre, said the protesters.
“Authorities think that disconnecting thousands of people from these areas would minimize the pressure of traffic on Jawahar Nagar road. That is absolutely wrong but in turn it would increase the pressure of traffic on it,” claimed the protestors.
They added that due to closure of bridge, they now have to travel more than thirty kilometers to reach city centre Lal Chowk. “Otherwise, the city centre is just three to five kilometers away from our areas,” they said.
The angry protestors blocked the Jawahar Nagar road and demanded the government to explain “why their fundamental rights to life and travel were violated.”
“Earlier the authorities had promised that it will construct at least two Bailey bridges over Mehjoor Nagar nallah to ease out traffic, but that was not done while contrary people are forced to suffer,” a protester Muhammad Amin said.
The governments in rest of the world are making efforts to construct new roads and bridges to make travel of people smooth, but in Kashmir, things are moving in opposite direction, they rued.
“In case of Kashmir, the authorities are coming up with the diversion plans where a commuter has to travel thirty kilometers to reach at desired destination which otherwise is just three to five minutes away from him,” they said.
They said that the authorities bulldozed a portion of the bridge during intervening night of April 28 and 29.
The department of Roads and Buildings on Friday said they bulldozed a portion of “unsafe” Mehjoor Nagar Bridge “to avoid any untoward incident”.
Earlier, the residents of several localities took to streets against the bulldozing of the bridge, demanding an explanation behind the government action.
“Yes, we did it this morning. The bridge is unsafe and we don’t want any untoward incident to happen. Human lives are more precious,” Satish Razdan, Chief Engineer R&B said.
He added that bridge was declared unsafe few years back and that the authorities had erected barricades on its both ends.
“However, some persons used to remove those barricades. Now, due to new diversion plan, the bridge was witnessing more rush of traffic,” he said.
When asked about the alternative for general public to connect with the city, he replied: “We are constructing new bridge at Mehjoor Nagar and that would be completed in one year.”
Deputy Commissioner Srinagar, Farooq Ahmad Lone said that decision for the closure of Bridge was taken earlier during a meeting held under the chairmanship of Divisional Commissioner Kashmir.
“The decision was taken in public interest. We understand that people will face difficulties and would have to travel longer distances to reach at city centre. But human lives are more precious,” he added.