I&FC deptt yet to initiate Phase-II of Jhelum dredging
Srinagar, Feb 10: The state government is yet to initiate the second phase of dredging on river Jhelum even though Centre had released Rs 399 crore for the project three years before.
After devastating 2014 flood, Centre in February 2016 sanctioned Rs 399 crores Jammu and Kashmir for dredging of rivers to enhance their carrying capacity and to prevent flood like situation.
The dredging of the River Jhelum was scheduled in two phases. Phase-I of the project was initiated in north and central Kashmir by a Kolkata based firm Reach Dredging Limited.
Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC) paid Rs 20 crore to the firm, which later monitoring sub-committee disengaged from the project after failing to meet multiple deadlines including March 2018.
While department claims the first phase in Srinagar was completed and almost 80 per cent dredging work was covered in north Kashmir , the process to initiate Phase II has not been set into motion yet.
“The Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the project is in the process and phase II will hopefully start in mid-2019. We are currently on job for approval of the project,” Chief Engineer I&FC A K Sharma said.
He blamed the harsh weather condition in winters for delay in the completion of the project. “Due to the rains and snow, dredging cannot be done. We need to wait till this rainy season is over.”
For phase I, the deadline was initially set as January 2017 but the government later extended it to December 2017 after suspension of work due to 2016 unrest.
The incomplete project is being flayed by the experts who claim that many areas of the valley were still vulnerable to floods.
“Dredging was meant to remove deposition of sand and silt in the river, which still has not been done properly. Even normal rainfall can trigger flood like situation in the valley due to the less carrying capacity of the rivers,” Environmentalist Dr Arshid said.