PROPOSED SKEWED BRIDGE ON RIVER JHELUM & FLY-OVER FROM JEHANGIR CHOWK TO RAMBAGH
Er. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili FIE (Retd. Chief Engineer)
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 transportation system. Non-conforming uses in CBD have been identified which are proposed to be removed from the existing sites under the hypothesis of decentralization. In order to deplete the traffic intensity on Moulana Azad Road and its junctions , Dood ganga road from Rambagh to Batamaloo and East West corridors, one on the North from Baba Dharam Das (Kohna Khan) to Neelam Chowk via Barbarshah and Ganpatyar and another from Lasjan to Gangabug via Padshahibagh, Mahjoor Nagar and Rambagh have been proposed. The non-conforming uses in the CBD once shifted will deplete the traffic to a great extent. These include shifting of KMDA Bus Stand, Batamaloo Bus Stand, Matador Stand, Police Lines/PCR at Magarmalbagh/Batamaloo, Jail at Kathidarwaza, Defence use at Tatoo Ground, JKLI at Doodganga behind Shergrhi Police Station, BSF frontier Head Quarters at Sanatnagar, LPG/Petrol Storage at Sanatnagar, Shali Store Complex, Storage Godown at PCR Batamaloo, Farm Land in Agriculture complex Lal Mandi, Lower Courts at Lal Chowk, Govt. Press Lal Chowk, Hoticulture Farm near Convent School, Saw Mills and Timber Depots of the City particularly from C.B.D., Gwalas in core city, Workshops along major roads at KMD, Bagi Nand Singh, River Bank, Nallah Beds etc., Stone Crushers on N.H.Way from Pampore to Sonawar, Skin Trade, Taxidermy in core city, Leper Asylum, Mental Hospital, Exhibition Complex, CONFED on I.G.Road near Magarmal crossing, Veternary Complex at Maisuma, Forest Deptt building near Lower Court, Other enlisted sordid/slum Pockets, Karamchari Colony of Srgr. Muinicipality at Rambagh and around fort at Kalai-andar, petrol Pumps at Batamaloo and M.A. Bridge, Milk Chilling Plant at Cheshmashahi, Brick kilns at various locations in existing areas etc. as envisaged in the Master Plan. Hence the consequent depletion of traffic obviates the ventures like the Construction of the proposed Convent Bridge and Rambagh Flyover.
Proposed Transportation Plan:
A transportation Plan is envisaged in the Master Plan, wherein a proper hierarchy of streets is proposed. The upper rung is the proposed Motorway with 200 ft. Right of Way starting from Galandar on National Highway 1-A to Narbal Crossing of Srinagar Baramulla road via Nowgam, Humhama and Soibug. All the roads crossing on the proposed motorway shall be on a different grade. The proposed motorway shall have a limited accesses and exits. The total length of the motorway shall be about 28 kms. This motorway shall be an important bye pass route for goods as well as regional traffic. The motorway shall be connected to the CBD through a 90 ft. wide road through Nowgam and Rambagh. The road shall also connect the Railway Station at Nowgam and Freight Centre with the motorway, thereby segregating the goods and the passenger traffic. The transport network also comprises of the arterial roads of 90 ft. to 150 ft. right of way and sub-arterial roads of 68ft. to less than 90 ft. along with North-South and East-West corridors. Out of these corridors some are existing with bottlenecks to be removed and some are proposed afresh. Collector streets from residential neighbor-hoods are planned as 40 ft. to 68 ft. wide with high level of service. All these roads put together constitute about 1753 hectares or 7.35 % of the proposed developed area with the total length of proposed road network above 40 ft. being 506 kms. In practice the road length is not increased by a considerable margin. Therefore it is proposed to increase the Right of Way and carriageways and consequently the level of service.
Grade Separated Intersection
The traffic capacity of the existing arterial system in Srinagar city has crossed its limits. There is a forced flow on major roads according to the traffic survey. The peak hour volume is more than 3000 PCUS. To provide for efficient intra-city movement of traffic, the projection of volume provides for grade separated intersections at major crossings, with due consideration of the projected volume of traffic. To provide for smooth movement of traffic along corridors it is envisaged to anticipate construction of grade separated intersections at major locations like Batamaloo junction, Karan Nagar, Moulana Azad Bridge and Kak Sarai. Commercial development presently in vogue in the city should be ordered away from the intersection so that in future, the maintained building lines do not interfere with junction improvement schemes.
Rapid Transit System:
The projected population for Srinagar city by the year 2021 is about 2.3 million. With increasing car-man ratio the personalized mode volume is on the increase exponentially. To reduce dependence on personalized modes it is imperative to provide a mass RAPID-TRANSIT system (MRTS) in future. It is therefore proposed to reserve corridors for a rail based transit system along the North-South direction from Pandach to Nowgam Railway Station via North-South Corridor, Ali Jan Road, Safa Kadal, Karan Nagar Road, Jehangir-Chowk to Tengapora via Batamaloo and along bye-pass to Nowgam. The proposed MRTS shall be rail-based, partly elevated, partly on grades and partly sub-terrain from Karan Nagar-Muincipality road intersection to Batamaloo via Jehangir-Chowk, with dual tracks and terminals. A secondary corridor is also proposed from Saidpora on Ali Jan road to Tengapora on N.H. bye-pass via Achan district-centre, which might be taken up in 13th five year plan period.
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 fly-over from Jehangir-Chowk to Rambagh bridge and Natipora crossing. 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 was got shelved in eighties 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. Besides 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 skew 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.
Regarding flyover, it is to pass through congested commercial establishments from Jehangir Chowk to Rambagh on both sides of road, which include shops, malls, industrial establishments, schools, religious places, parks, offices and residences rendering these all to be on a lower level with a monstrous structure standing close in their vicinity, also generating noise and dust pollution. Already the Master Plan has spelled out construction of road on Doodganga alignment connecting Batamaloo with Rambagh, which would be a cheaper and viable alternative, besides widening of the existing road from Batamaloo to Tengapora. The estimated cost of 3512 million INR involved in the construction of the flyover could be utilized in a more judicious manner. Besides any amendment in the Master Plan proposals has to be got approved in the cabinet as per the laid procedure.
In the present age of transparency, public opinion needs to be invited on all such projects concerning them, after making all the details public including the environmental impact assessment made by the respective agencies.
Regarding urban infrastructure development I wish our planners pay a flying visit to UAE and watch how the new twin cities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have come up.
There are 4 to 5-lane roads on either side with a maximum speed of 120 kmph, monitored by CTV cameras with instant dire punishment for violating the traffic rules. There are no street dogs, nor beggars (begging is banned), no solid waste in sight, no dust in the rooms- being all airtight due to AC, no policeman or army man visible, no deafening horns. We find vacuum cleaners cleaning the roads in the night hours, multi-storeyed shopping malls, with multi-storeyed parking lots, round the clock ensured electric supply, water supply and gas connection. Being tax free people from Europe fly in to buy their goods. Last 30-40 years have witnessed conversion of mud huts to high-rise buildings, sky-scrapers and even the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa- 166 Storeys all due to a dedicated ruler late Shaikh Zayed Naihan.