Govt pins hopes on 14th Finance Commission, AIBP assistance

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Aug 12: As the financial crunch remains a major hurdle in the creation of artificial lake and start of allied but very crucial works, the State Government has now pinned hopes on assistance from the 14th Finance Commission and under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) scheme of the Union Government.
Authoritative sources told EXCELSIOR that Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, while reviewing this mega project of Jammu in a meeting recently, expressed serious concern over neglect of important aspects of the project like strengthening of embankments of river Tawi, protection work along Tawi island and diversion of 13 city nullahs at the time of preparation of the Detailed Project Report.
“Had holistic view of the entire project been taken at that time and all these vital aspects incorporated in the project, at least some source of funding could have been identified till date and fate of allied but very crucial works would not have been hanging in balance”, sources said quoting observations of the Chief Minister.
It was disclosed in the meeting that keeping in view prevailing financial crunch and on the directions of Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Sham Lal Sharma, a proposal has been submitted to the 14th Finance Commission headed by former Reserve Bank of India Governor Dr Y V Reddy for assistance to complete ambitious project of creation of artificial lake.
It is pertinent to mention here that for the diversion of city nullahs through which solid and other waste is flowing into river Tawi a project of Rs 36 crore has been prepared while as for strengthening of right and left embankment an amount of Rs 35 crore is required. Similarly, for the protection works along Tawi island an amount of Rs 17 crore is required.
During the meeting, it was decided by the Chief Minister and Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control that assistance under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) would also be sought from the Union Government for which requisite formalities would be completed very shortly, sources informed, adding “the officers of the Irrigation and Flood Control Department are on the job and very shortly the concerned authorities of the Union Government would be approached for assistance under AIBP”.
When asked how the project falls under the purview of AIBP scheme, sources said, “the main objective behind creation of artificial lake by way of blocking water is to release more water in the Ranbir Canal, which is the main source of providing water for the irrigation purpose to vast agricultural belt”, adding “on release of additional water in Ranbir canal the farmers even on the tail end of the Canal would get sufficient water for irrigation purpose”.
Besides being a source of attraction for the tourists for which Tourism Department has planned numerous works and activities, the artificial lake would play major role in stabilization of ground water, they said while disclosing that water discharge capacity of more than 30 tube wells on both sides of river Tawi would increase due to the pondage.
Asked about how the pondage would be possible in the absence of strengthened embankments, they said, “after installation of flood gates, efforts would be made at least to start limited pondage by blocking the river Tawi water”, adding “this would be done so as to ensure that objectives of releasing more water in Ranbir Canal and stabilization of ground water could be achieved albeit of not the intended capacity”.
However, the pondage up to full capacity and attraction of tourists would become reality only after the diversion of nullahs and strengthening of embankments.

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