Even funds yet to be earmarked for much-hyped project
Procedural delays, slackness create hurdle in DPR submission
JAMMU, Mar 26: Announced over two and half years back by the Union Agriculture Minister, the much-hyped Saffron Park at Kishtwar has remained on papers only due to inordinate delay in completion of formalities by the officers of the Agriculture Production Department of the State Government. Moreover, no time-frame can still be specified for any headway in this regard as even Detailed Project Report (DPR) has yet not been forwarded to the Union Government for approval.
The proposal about establishment of Saffron Park at Kishtwar was mooted several years back in order to improve the overall production of saffron, enhance its quality and research and extension capability and it remained the buzzword for several Ministers of the PDP-BJP Coalition Government, who had even fixed different timelines for start of work on ground.
However, the formal announcement in this regard was made by the Union Minister for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Radha Mohan Singh while inaugurating Kissan Mela-cum-Exhibition at Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Kashmir on July 4, 2017.
“The Saffron Park at Kishtwar will be equipped with quality testing lab, export based activities and e-auction facility centre”, the Union Minister had mentioned in his announcement.
Thereafter, on November 5, 2017, the then Minister for Agriculture in PDP-BJP Coalition Government Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura called on Union Minister at New Delhi and conveyed that Detailed Project Report (DPR) for setting up of Saffron Park at Kishtwar will be submitted to the Centre within a month to give boost to saffron production in Kishtwar.
However, till date the much-hyped Saffron Park has remained confined to papers only as even Detailed Project Report (DPR) has not been submitted to the Union Agriculture Minister, official sources told EXCELSIOR while disclosing that it was only on February 21, 2019 that a committee was constituted to formulate Detailed Project Report.
This is notwithstanding the fact that State Level Sanctioning Committee for Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana in its meeting held under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary on September 5, 2017 had kept a provision of Rs 30 lakh for research and development on saffron in Kishtwar. This amount included Rs 5 lakh for preparation of Detailed Project Report for Kishtwar Saffron Park.
“The Detailed Project Report is presently lying in the Agriculture Production Department and is yet to be forwarded to the Union Ministry despite the fact that it would be only after examining and clearing the DPR that Union Ministry will earmark sufficient funds for setting up of Saffron Park”, sources said.
They further said, “though a suitable land has been identified at Kishtwar and process has been initiated for its formal transfer to the Agriculture Production Department yet start of activities on ground depends on approval of DPR and subsequent release of funds”.
Stating that no time-frame can be specified for clearance of DPR and sanctioning of funds, sources said, “because of Model Code of Conduct the Union Agriculture Ministry would not be in a position to take any formal decision and it would be only after the conclusion of Lok Sabha elections and formulation of new Government at the Centre that fresh discussion on Saffron Park would be initiated”.
“Had utmost serious been shown in timely preparation of DPR and its submission to the Union Government funds would have been sanctioned and work started on ground much earlier”, sources said while holding officers of the Agriculture Production Department responsible for hanging fate of the Saffron Park.
There was no response from the senior officers of the Agriculture Production Department despite repeated telephonic calls. However, Director Agriculture Kashmir Altaf Aijaz Andrabi, who was member of the committee constituted for preparation of DPR , confirmed that DPR was yet to be submitted to the Union Agriculture Ministry.
He admitted that Saffron Park at Kishtwar would go a long way in increasing production and enhance its quality.