Does Irrigation Deptt need a shake-up ?


How can a trust be implanted in those who would like to respond to various tenders floated by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC) when the word spreading about it is not having been in a position to clear a liability of over Rs. 12 crore of some contractors for as many as 6 long years. Finance and money matters are too fragile and sensitive to be taken lightly. The more trust about a particular department about honouring its financial commitments well in time is fairly known , the more would the community of contractors like to work for them. Not only this, the Department supposed to look into the proper upkeep of the Ranbir Canal , Pratap Canal and its distributaries has not come up to the expected levels of timely response. As even this year, it has not launched de-silting work of the canal in time although on the auspicious occasion of Baisakhi , water is released in the Ranbir Canal from Chenab at Akhnoor which during winter months is stopped. There being barely less than a month left for this exercise to be completed, the Irrigation Department or Jal Shakti Department appears to be doing little towards undertaking this work in the absence of which if water is released , it would mean doing the same into not a canal but into a huge garbage dump with nasty smelling ordours . Building up of silt otherwise means reduction in water depth and even floods during rainy season. Incidentally, the other most disturbing thing about our general attitude towards the Ranbir Canal should be emotionally very close to everyone living in Jammu to not violate it and muddy it wantonly besides dumping all the garbage, polythene bags, broken bottles, rituals offerings and other items, carcasses and even building and construction malba into it. While advocating for violating the sanctity and the glory of the Ranbir Canal to be made a cognizable offence with imprisonment and fine or both , we feel that it is surprising that environmentalists and nature lovers and other NGOs are not raising enough voice in this regard nor the Government, resulting in the pitiable condition it is seen in during winter months in particular as during summer months due to water flowing through it , the violation of its sanctity gets camouflaged . However, we are afraid , perhaps it is all being allowed knowingly for obvious reasons as removal of silt off site being expensive usually is dumped on its banks which at the time of rains etc get back into the canal. Usually, for silt removing , the department concerned invites tenders for works undertaken for the purpose hurriedly as such works coincide with the period of March ending by which time, funds allocated must be ”spent” and the general perception is that the massive funds drawn in the name of cleansing and removing the silt from the canal are distributed among the ‘blue eyed’ contractors and insiders which needs to be probed. However, we note with satisfaction that Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha while taking stock of and enquiring about the mechanism laid down to cleanse Ranbir Canal has viewed seriously the practice of dumping of municipal waste into it and has also directed the concerned officers to complete the removal of silt from the canal and its various branches at an early date . While a comprehensive mechanism for treating the solid waste is of paramount need so that a major part of the same does not get dumped into the canal , the working of the I&FC needs to be toned up . Moreover, a detailed audit must be conducted in respect of the reasons and circumstances of a whooping amount of six year old un-cleared liabilities of Rs.12 crore being not squared off. It must also be enquired into as to why hurriedly removing of silt is done barely a few days before the release of water into it which results in removal of the stuff nominally while major silt and dumped garbage remains in it but bills are drawn and “spent” in the usual manner.