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Deadline for Jhelum dredging bound to be missed

Srinagar, Feb 20: Four years after valley faced the devastating floods in 2014, Irrigation and Flood Control department is bound to miss the March 2018 deadline for the first phase of dredging.
The project is part of the Prime Minister’s Development Package.
J&K government received crores of funds from the government of India to clean the flood channels as well as to de-silt the river right from Anantnag to Baramulla.
The same was aimed to increase the carrying capacity of the river and provide relief to the people ravaged by the perennial threat of floods.
The Rs-280 crore ‘Priority Works- Comprehensive Plan for Flood Management Works on Jhelum-Phase-I, was awarded to a Kolkata based firm with March 2018 as its deadline.
As per the official documents accessed by The Kashmir Monitor, an amount of Rs 170.08 crore has been utilised until November 2017 out of the total amount of Rs 235 crore (Central share Rs 115.79 cr and State share Rs 119.79 cr).
The cumulative dredging work done in this period until November 2017 was 9.16 lakh cubic metres against the target of 16.36 lakh cubic metres, which amounts to meagre 56 per cent.
“They (J&K) have to submit utilisation certificates and give eligible proposals for further release of funds,” reads the Government of India document of November.
For the second phase, it says that the Centre is yet to receive any action plan from J&K.
“The detailed project report is yet to be submitted by the state government. The process of engagement of Consultant for preparation of DPR needs to be expedited by the government,” reveal the documents.
Chief Engineer I&FC, Shahnawaz Ahmad Mir, said that 64 percent dredging work in river Jehlum has been completed so far.
“We have achieved a target of 5.6 lakh cubic meter against the target of 7 lakh cubic meter in Srinagar and 5.36 lakh cubic meter against 9.16 lakh cubic meter in Baramulla.”
“We hope to finish the first phase of dredging by March,” he said.
For the second phase, Mir said that it will take three months for framing of DPR.
However, Executive Engineer, I&FC, Sartaj Singh said that “75 percent” dredging work of the first phase has been done so far. “The inordinate delay for the first phase is primarily because of the unrest,” he said.
“For phase two we have planned to hire a Delhi based firm for carrying out the project,” Sartaj said.
Commenting on the submission of DPR, he said that it will take them a month to frame the report.
Last year, on hearing a PIL about water bodies, a division bench of the high court had come down heavily on I&FC department. The bench observed that steps taken to complete the phase one of dredging were “short-term steps”.
A study titled ‘A satellite-based rapid assessment on floods in Jammu & Kashmir–September 2014’ conducted jointly by the Department of Environment & Remote Sensing (DERS) and ISRO had also warned that “intensity of rainfall and frequency of rainy days in the Himalayan region may increase in 2030s, leading to another flood in Kashmir if immediate steps are not taken to restore the drainage system of Jhelum”.