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Jammu’s development projects in limbo

Jammu’s development projects in limbo

Rajan Gandhi

Seventy long years since independence with almost every party of state ruling one time or other whether Congress, NC, Panthers Party, CPI , PDP and now even BJP Jammu, with a long list of unfinished projects, Jammu seems to has a unique distinction of the only city in whole India where every six months with Darbar move different projects with much fanfare are announced and with the shifting back of Civil Secretariat after six months all are forgotten and authorities go back in hibernation again. One is perplexed  to notice that projects sanctioned more than a decade ago are still on papers only and it seems with least planning, zero accountability and resultant  scuttled projects is the order of the day  . Such is the situation right now that with every declaration of new project, public asks netas, what about the earlier projects announced? Netas are clueless and even babus don’t have any answer but the ordeal is going on and on.
Ambphalla to Janipur flyover project was conceived in the year 2003 with the financing from Asian Development Bank, but the project has been on the paper itself till now even after a lapse of 14 long years. The land has not been acquired till date; with the files biting dust the intent the state is quite visible. With the proactive approach of Honorable High Court it will be interesting to see whether the real culprits are brought to book or again let off. Similar process is going on and on for widening of Aknoor highway; yes it’s still on papers only .Another project which needs special attention is Jammu Sewerage pipe line, sanctioned in 2006 by Government of India under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) at a cost of Rs 129 crore, allotted to National Building Construction Corporation Limited (NBCC) .The Detailed Project Report (DPR) of the project envisaged construction of a 27 (Million Liter Per Day) MLD Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) along with Trunk Sewer Line (TSL) and Lateral Sewer Line (LSL) to connect to households, NBCC allotted the work of construction to the sub contractors. But during execution of work of the sewer lines, it was seen that some links were omitted in the main project so in order to cover the missing links another DPR was made and sanctioned in 2012 by Government of India for laying of additional 1050 meters of TSL and 36220 meters of LSL at an estimated additional cost of Rs 20.32 crore . Even after digging every nook and corner of the whole city for more than 10 years till today project is incomplete and the Sewerage Treatment Plant (STP) constructed remains unutilized due to lack of connecting sewer lines. Who is accountable for all this is still a mystery as ERA was involved for project on that side of Tawi river and JMC was assigned for this side of Tawi river .
Patnitop ropeway project is another classical example of the failure of administrative apparatus in our State. A number of agencies were to be involved for official clearance but as usual nobody at that time realized that clearance from concerned agencies like forest department, environment agency, central environmental clearance etc. would have to be taken and a long process of sanctions started in which at one time even the Supreme Court had a role to play. The process took nearly a decade and half of gestation and the project  was initially allotted to a Hyderabad – based company for an estimated cost of 52 crore rupees but after this much time delay with subsequent increase in cost of the project the company lost interest in the project so, fresh tenders had to be floated in which only one company evinced interest so the Tourism Department was left with no other option but to approach the State Cabinet for final call and so delay goes on and on. This project is especially important for this area as footfalls of tourists have considerably reduced after the opening of Chenani-Nashri tunnel as this picturesque place is now getting bypassed. Similarly Jammu and Kashmir Government has initially cancelled a tender for Mubarak Mandi-Bahu Fort ropeway project after a controversy erupted over inclusion of the name of a non-existent place Shahabad in place of Bahu Fort . When this project will be completed, despite an announced deadline of March 2018, is to be seen.
Another flip flop project is Artificial Lake project of Jammu, conceived by then Governor Jagmohan in 1986, the State Government initiated the process for construction in 2008-09 . Its attached barrage had a proposed installation of 31 gates, 11 in upper portion and the remaining 20 in lower portion and these gates were designed to be opened in case of floods. This lake could have augmented the water flow of the Tawi canal  by lifting 700 cusecs of water from river Tawi .
The project has the technical approval from Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi as also the approval from Central Water Commission as well as Indus Water Commission. After spending 58 crores and jumping deadlines of 2012 , 2013,2014 with finally June 2015 fixed for completion  but shortly after taking over as Chief Minister of the state, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed decided to shelve the project and the final fate of project is still unknown with different ministers giving contradictory statements.
Mubarak Mandi Heritage Complex plan is classic example of our State’s affairs . In nearly a decade only Rs 21 crore have been released as against project cost of Rs 298 crore. Tall claims of successive Governments including the present coalition has been fully exposed as the restoration of historic Mubarak Mandi Complex has remained least priority for all the concerned agencies despite the fact that the complex is crumbling with every passing year .
Failure of the Government to convene even regular meetings of the Governing Body  shows the level of seriousness of the Government , in fact , during the last two years Governing Body of the Mubarak Mandi Jammu Heritage Society has met only once. Another project under limbo is Chenab water supply scheme which is proposed to be implemented in two phases to supply 450 million litre daily water (MLD) in two phases, under phase I, 200 MLD will be lifted to cover the proposed population of 25 lakh by 2031 and in phase II, 250 MLD will be lifted to meet the requirement of 37 lakh people by 2046 .
New date of completion is by the 2020.Similarly Jammu airport is waiting expansion of runway since two decades, proposed in year 2000 , it took 17 years for government to allocate mere 17 acres of land to convert existing 6700ft long runway to 8000ft as required for safe landing of aircrafts.
The starting of AIIMS is also facing serious problem in the matter of acquisition of marked land and the interference at the highest level is required to resolve the issue at the earliest. With both State Forest and Health Ministry with BJP as well as Government in centre there is no excuse why such a delay as helpless public is suffering. As per CAG on March 31, 2014 there were 267 projects and works costing rupees one crore and above which have overshot their scheduled completion dates. These incomplete projects had a total sanctioned cost of Rs 1458.25 crore further revised to Rs 1497.07 crore and an amount of Rs 832.44 crore had already been spent on these incomplete projects by March 31, 2014.The blocking of funds in incomplete projects impinged “negatively” on the expenditure, depriving the state of intended benefits from these projects for prolonged periods.
Most of the projects which are visualized, do not get started and those which have been started often do not meet their end is the trend of Jammu projects. Due to non serious approach of the Government, wasting precious public money and abandoning projects is the ultimate viable solution for the Government.
In today’s world, public wants accountability not the usual lip service as layers of hypocrisy are daily peeled off on social and print media. With a package of more than 88,000 crore at the disposal of State Government, utilization of money seems to be a herculean task at present. Government must understand there is no option left; writing is on the wall, our leaders must read it in time.
“The keys to a project’s success are self assessment, accountability, transparency and responsibility.”

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