(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)
‘Skewed Bridge Construction is Dracula’s Return From the Grave’
At a time when the Master Plan for Srinagar has recommended decentralization of the City centre, one wonders about the wisdom of those who are hell bent to continue with the construction of the upcoming skewed bridge between Raj Bagh and Poloview. The construction across Jhelum is no less than Return of Dracula from the Grave. I have sensible logical and all the way technical reasons to prove my point. Read on: The Master Plan of Srinagar Metropolitan Area-2000-2021 highlights the problem in transportation sector being the concentration of activities in the Central Business District (CBD) extending from Dalgate to Batamaloo. All major Government, Commercial and Transport terminals are located in this area. Some broad junctions on Moulana Azad Road like Budshah Chowk, Jehangir Chowk and Batamaloo have heavy peak hour traffic volumes ranging from 1900 to much above 2000 Passenger Car Units (PCU’s). Even inter-City traffic passes through this area. The decentralization of activities is recommended in the Master Plan for improvement in the traffic movement in the City, which can be referred to for the details.
Proposed Transportation Plan: The current Master Plan can be referred for the details. Grade Separated Intersections: These too have been spelled out in the Master Plan, which could be taken up for execution. Rapid Transit System: The details stand spelled out in the current Master Plan.
There is nowhere in the Master Plan 2000-2021, the mention of the proposal of construction of the bridge over river Jhelum near Convent or that of the flyover from Jehangir-Chowk to Rambagh bridge. Had the action on the proposals of Master Plan been initiated right in the earnest, there was no need of these slip-shod proposals. How the Govt violates its own decisions without following the set procedure is not understood and if a law maker himself breaks the laws, how can he enforce the same on others. That is why we are witnessing violations of Master Plan being done by the private parties too, which get regularized later on.
The Master Plan 2000-2021 of Srinagar was approved by the Government vide Cabinet Decision no 11/1 dated 16.01.2003 and was ordered to come into operation from the same very date. It is unfortunate that more than nine years have elapsed; and it is yet stalled at the revision stage.
As regards Convent bridge, the earlier proposal got shelved in ‘80s under stiff opposition by the Institution of Engineers and I remember that a group of engineers led by late Er Saif-ud-Din Drabu met the then Honb’le CM, and the alignment was later on shifted to Abdullah bridge. Besides the negative points expressed that time being still valid, the present construction is bound to bring the pressure of traffic close to the City-Centre, which is already facing frequent traffic jams. Also it is going to destroy the recently completed costly beautification of the river banks on either side and that of the historic Bund, which has been providing a serene walkway plus the age-old, undisturbed shopping activity for both foreign/local tourists. The raising of approaches on either bank shall be a monstrous structure in the area. Besides the peaceful atmosphere of the prestigious Presentation Convent School is bound to get disturbed affecting adversely the education of our daughters studying there. The alternative site of Zero Bridge or the widening of the existing Abdullah Bridge, if necessary, could be explored which does not violate these considerations.
Since the project details have not been made public for inviting their opinion, no comments can be passed on the skewed alignment of the bridge. The IRC specifications recommend an alignment preferably at right angles to the axis of river. A skewed bridge has to resist additional forces due to water pressure and traction. The stresses in a skew slab increase with the angle of skew and the reactions at the supports change with the skew angle. It is found that the specifications for the distribution of wheel loads in right slab and girder bridges are sometimes unsafe and often too conservative. It has been shown however, that the reaction of an abutment of a 60 degree skew arch uniformly loaded varies from zero to twice the average pressure, which is bound to increase the cost of footings proportionately. A skew alignment has to be resorted to where absolutely essential. In fact even the approaches of the bridge must be in a straight alignment with that of the bridge as per IRC specifications.