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Jhelum water transport may become reality this year

J 3


By Hirra Azmat

Srinagar, Apr 18: After remaining unimplemented for nearly two decades, the state government has finally decided to start water transport, initially for Srinagar city, on “scientific grounds”.
As per the sources, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Khan, chaired a meeting last week in which he sought restoration of the water transport under “logistic” and “scientific” methods.
The documents of the minutes of the meeting which are lying with The Kashmir Monitor said the facility would be made functional this year.
“The commissioner has asked various departments to take necessary steps to ensure prompt action and reply in this regard,” it reads.
Khan has directed the Irrigation and Flood Control Department to prepare a design from Pantha Chowk to Shahi Hamdhan Ghat.
He asked the Public Works Department to install lights on bund side of the Jhelum along with a mobile STP to facilitate it.
During the meeting, he also directed the tourism department to allocate locations for the setting up of signages, the documents said.
“The department has also been asked to fix rates for the water transport,” it said.
The water transport facility, envisaged in 1999, has failed to take off, courtesy the governments’ lackadaisical approach coupled with the lack of resources.
The government estimated a cost of Rs 25 lakh and even chalked out a route from Pampore to Chattabal in Srinagar.
After remaining confined to meeting and paperwork for a decade, in 2011-12 it again decided to revive this traditional means of transport.
The government at that time allotted the contract to Kashmir Motors Company and five motor boats were kept ready to ferry the passengers.
While former chief minister Omar Abdullah-led government made a trial run of the transport from Pantha Chowk to Chattabal, it again remained in doldrums for another seven years.
In 2017, the minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control (I&FC), Sham Lal Choudhary, had also claimed that an over Rs 300-crore project was submitted to the government of India (GoI) for revival of the inland water transport.