Chrar’s Sharif mosque’s work still incomplete after 20 years

IRFAN RASHID

Charar-i-Sharief

Nearly 20 years after one of the oldest mosques adjoining the shrine of Sufi saint  Sheikh Noor-u-din Wali (RA) was gutted, state government has failed to complete its construction.
After both the shrine complex and the mosque were burnt in a siege between militants and government forces, the Housing and Urban development department had initially estimated the cost for rebuilding the shrine at Rs 11.22 crores, which however excluded ancillary works.
But after it was felt that amount was too less, the state government increased it to Rs 26.07 crores and handed over the project to J&K Projects Construction Corporation (JKPCC) Ltd in July 2002.  However the work over the project was halted and re-started in May 2005 keeping deadline to December 2011. Later the deadline was revised to 2013 and the work still remains incomplete.
The original plan of the mosque was to construct a 3-storey structure and a Hammam, but only few bathrooms have been raised due to which the prayer-goers are not able to carry out ablutions. The difficulty gets compounded during Fridays when the mosque witnesses a huge rush of people from across the state.
The original plan also envisaged construction of separate 19 rooms in which the people could meditate in seclusion, but this has not been made part of the original structure leaving the people peeved.
The work on the dome is going on snail’s pace which is planned to be be 82 feet high with 44 feet in diameter. As per the documents, Rs 22.07 crores, but delay in release of funds has left the project hanging in fire, officials said. As per documents in possession of Rising Kashmir, “ the reason for delays include non availability of funds from time to time, delay in release of foundation details by structural consultant, and court stays on account of land compensation.’’
The documents reveal that after Muslim Auqaf Trust was taken over by Wakf Board, the work was hampered. “  The Wakf authorities had objected to the design parameters,” documents note.
“ After re-conducting soil tests and investigations as proof check, the consultant designer was then changed and then new designer agency M/S Structural consultant Poloview was appointed by the Wakf authorities and agreement was made with them to provide new structural details,’’ sources said.
Local residents blamed that the government is not serious about completing the project. A l Wakf member said that that despite repeated pleas made to senior functionaries in the district administration and JPKCC no substantial progress has been made over the project.
“We appeal to the government to speed up the construction work on the Khanqah as the pilgrims are  facing a lot of difficulties,” said Rayees Ahmad, a resident of Charar-e-Sharief.
“I believe it is almost complete and work on final designing of the dome will be completed soon,” said Amir Din,  head priest at the mosque.
Talking to Rising Kashmir, P L Bhusan, Chairman JKPCCC said that construction was delayed due to paucity of funds.  “The real issue was about dome. Normally the life cycle of a dome is 10 to 15 years. But we had floated tender to procure dome with life cycle of 25 years, then chairman of Wakf board had stopped us.  Then we had constituted a team which had gone to Principal Manufacturer,” said Bhushan, adding “at the maximum it will take 20 days for the material to be deployed at the site to resume work.”
Local MLA and Minister for agriculture, Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura attributed the slow work to paucity of funds. “Chief Minister has announced funds will be released soon. The work will resume within 15 days.”
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