Residents of a colony in Srinagar have agreed to the demolition of a 40-year-old mosque to allow a long-awaited bridge over the Jhelum river to be completed, officials said on Sunday. They said the project has been pending since 2002 due to some bottlenecks, including the presence of the mosque and some residential and commercial structures.
The demolition of the mosque began on Saturday, 24 hours after the signing of an agreement between Srinagar District Development Commissioner Shahid Iqbal Choudhary and the Managing Committee of Masjid Abu Turab at Qamarwari's Rampora area, the officials said.
This is a second instance when the efforts of the Deputy Commissioner paved the way for resumption of stalled work on vital projects.
Earlier this month, he successfully negotiated with the management of the historic Damdama Sahib Gurdwara at Zainakote, enabling resumption of expansion work on the Srinagar-Baramulla National Highway.
The officials said the district development commissioner held a series of meetings with the mosque management to resolve the major land acquisition issue, preventing the completion of the 166-metre two-lane bridge connecting Qamarwari with Noorbagh in the city.
The agreement reached between the government and the mosque management includes, among others, an offer from the district administration to bear all cost of the reconstruction of the mosque and its completion within 12 months, the officials said.
They said the Rs 10-crore bridge project was started in 2002, but could not be completed because of issues surrounding land acquisition and removal of bottlenecks.
In spite of funding of over Rs 2.5 crore through the Jammu and Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) in 2018, covering cost escalation to complete the project, the work remained stalled because of a total of 18 bottlenecks including the presence of the mosque, the officials said.
"Now that this main bottleneck in the completion of the project is sorted out, the work will be resumed and completed at the earliest," Mr Choudhary said.
He said a plan has been finalised for relocation of other structures that includes a fire station and 16 residential and commercial structures.
He said alongside the construction of the bridge, the district administration would undertake flood protection and beautification works along the Jhelum and repair adjacent roads and install 'smart lighting' in the area.