Foot Bridges – Connecting life in Jammu and Kashmir

The floods of 2014 created havoc and had a devastating effect on the State of Jammu and Kashmir. The State had to put in all the effort to restore the infrastructural conditions in the State that was left in shambles due to the natural calamity. One of the major initiatives undertaken by the State was the construction of foot bridges through convergence with Mahatma Gandhi NREGA to connect the villages to schools, health centres, ration depots etc. 387 such foot bridges were constructed during FY 2015-16.

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Implementation

After the devastating floods that ravaged the State in 2014, the department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj in Jammu and Kashmir had the onus of building the rural Infrastructure and putting the rural economy back on track. The State under convergence with Mahatma Gandhi NREGA, 13th Finance Commission funds, and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) started project “Rahat” in Udhampur district. Project “Rahat” was a unique concept aimed at providing rural connectivity to remote areas and inaccessible hamlets and facilitate access to essential services, schools, health facilities etc. through construction of foot bridges.

While the initial project was to construct 110 footbridges in the Jammu and Udhampur districts of the State at a cost of Rs 48 crore, during FY 2015-16, the State constructed 387 foot bridges which bridged Panchayats, schools, health centres, ration depots, post offices, veterinary health centres and, seed and fertilizer stores. The convergence with DRDO resulted in providing of bridges with low cost technology but suitable for inaccessible areas as these could easily be carried and commissioned in the remotest of the areas. 

Impact

The all-weather connectivity provided rural households easy access to their means of earning livelihood. The foot bridges came as a boon to the rural households as it connected the panchayat areas across the ravines which used to remain disconnected and inaccessible during the rains and floods. These all-weather structures once built, ensured that the children reach to their schools to access education. The construction of foot bridges provided connectivity to more than 20,000 students of 150 schools in Udhampur district alone, besides benefitting a population of more than 1.60 lakh. Other than schools, remote hamlets, livestock routes, ration supply lines and other unconnected habitations were now connected through the foot bridges.

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