NEW DELHI, Feb 8: In a major decision, the first of its kind for the State of Jammu & Kashmir, the Government of India has approved, at first instance, an amount of Rs. 170.54 crore for cleaning and pollution abatement of river “Devika” in Udhampur under “National River Conservation Plan” (NRCP).
Disclosing this here today, Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER), MoS PMO, Personnel, Public Grievances, Pensions, Atomic Energy and Space, Dr Jitendra Singh said that this is a great day for the people of Udhampur and he himself, as an MP from the area, feels particularly gratified to note that after two years of continuous, day-to-day follow up with the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, the Government of India has finally included Devika as the very first river from the State of Jammu & Kashmir to be included in the “National River Conservation Plan” (NRCP).
An official communication to this effect, he said, was issued today from the Directorate of National River Conservation Plan, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
Expressing extreme happiness over the development, Dr Singh said, this is like fulfillment of one of the lifetime dreams, because river Devika is a holy river and a river of faith, which is held in high esteem as the sister of river Ganges. Besides this, he said, the rise in river-bed and continuous pollution had, of late, increased the risk of possible overflow of the river and health hazards due to pollutants.
Pertinent to mention that soon after getting elected as MP from Udhampur, Dr Singh had taken up the issue with the then Union Environment Minister, Prakash Javadekar. Subsequently, a team from the Ministry was sent to Udhampur when Dr Shahid Iqbal was the Deputy Commissioner of the district. The team had carried back samples from the river-bed and the river-banks as a part of their initial scientific study.
Following a series of meetings and evaluation reviews over the last two years, on 17th December last year, a revised Pre-Feasibility Report (PFR) for pollution abatement of river Devika was submitted to Union Environment Ministry.
After further deliberations on the Report and constant follow-up by Dr Jitendra Singh, the Union Environment Ministry approved an estimated cost of Rs. 170.54 cr including 8% centages for pollution abatement of river Devika in Udhampur. Meanwhile the State Government of J&K has been asked to submit a Detailed Project Report (DPR) so that the work can be initiated at the earliest.
After being included in the NRCP, Dr Singh elaborated that the major works undertaken would include capturing and eliminating of raw sewage flow into the river and diverting them for treatment, setting up of Sewage Treatment Plants for treating the diverted sewage, building low cost sanitation toilets to prevent open defecation on river banks and setting up of improved crematoria to conserve the use of wood and help in ensuring proper cremation of human bodies brought to the burning Ghats. In addition, he said, River Front Development works will be undertaken which will improve the bathing Ghats.
Dr Singh said, the full completion of the work on River Devika may go beyond his present 5 year term as MP, but, he said, he had the satisfaction of having got initiated a project which he had promised to the people of Udhampur as well as to himself as a matter of faith.
Meanwhile, Dr Jitendra Singh met a series of delegations in his Parliament House Chamber and his DoPT office. Notable among them was a delegation of Telangana Gazetted Officers’ Association led by Ramachandru Tejavath, Government of Telangana Coordinator with Cabinet rank. The delegation put forward some of their grievances pertaining to the allocation of cadres during bifurcation of service cadres at the time of the formation of the State of Telangana in June 2014.
Responding to the delegation, Dr Jitendra Singh said, the bifurcation of the erstwhile Andhra cadre into the Andhra cadre and Telangana cadre was one of the first tasks undertaken by him when he joined the Ministry of Personnel soon after the formation of Modi Government and thereafter, a conscious effort has been made to accommodate every officer to his convenience. He assured the members of delegation that due cognizance will be taken of their inputs and efforts will be made to help them as far as possible.