They embodied the homegrown 600-year-old art of building bridges with logs. Zaina Kadal and Zero Bridge, the only two of Srinagar's famed bridges still standing, may also make way for newer technological suspensions if the state government has its way.
In an order issued to the state's roads and building department, a copy of which is with HT, the government has identified these two historical bridges for demolition. And the reason offered is that they are “unsafe for traffic”.
These grand bridges, locally known as kadals, connected various parts of the city on either side of the Jhelum river. While the Zaina Kadal was built in the 15th century by Zain-ul-Abideen,the Zero Bridge was built by former PM Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad in the 1950s.
“The Zero bridge epitomises the traditional and unique way of the construction of wood bridges. Demolishing them will rob Srinagar of its architectural essence and its face,” said Saleem Beg, head of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Kashmir.
"The bridges may not cater to the increasing traffic but can act as pedestrian walkways. Srinagar needs such footbridges. Besides, these bridges are living example of how Srinagar evolved as a city," he added.
Filmmaker Aarsh Mushtaq, who directed the first Kashmiri digital movie, Aakh Daleel Lolich, in 2006, is planning to organise a protest play on the Zero Bridge.
Despite repeated attempts by HT, both chief engineer Nazir Ahmad and roads and buildings minister Javeed Dar were not available for comment.