Niti Aayog, MHA, MoD give nod for JAICA funded Chenab water supply project

City facing shortfall of 15 MGL water per day

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Sept 7: After being dropped by the Asian Development Bank (ADB), about five years ago, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JAICA) funded Chenab drinking water supply project worth Rs 625 crore (Phase-I) for Greater Jammu has finally received the much awaited nod from the Niti Aayog, Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Defence and Ministry of External Affairs.
Highly placed sources told the Excelsior that the clearance for these projects which was pending for the last several years, was received hardly during last one month after the outgoing Governor N N Vohra in a recent meeting asked the concerned officers to expedite work and get the necessary clearance as it was his `dream project’. The last NoC from the Ministry of Defence was received hardly three weeks back, the sources said.
The funding agency JAICA had expressed its apprehensions about Pakistan’s interference in the project in view of Indus Water Treaty and the Ministry of External Affairs while dealing with the issue cleared that since water is being used for drinking purpose and up to the prescribed limit, so it was out of the purview of the Treaty, the sources added.
Since the water intake structure near old Akhnoor bridge is closer to a Military installation, so the clearance from the MoD was necessary. Moreover, the water pipes alignment was expected to pass just closer to a BSF and another CRPF camp en-route, so another NoC was sought from the Ministry of Home Affairs by the JAICA team which had visited the sites some time back, the sources maintained.
The sources further said that now a team of experts from JAICA would visit the project site at the bank of river Chenab in Akhnoor and also at Jammu (Muthi) and after its satisfaction, it will give the final nod to start work on this project shortly as all other obstacles have already been cleared. With this, Jammu city which is presently getting nearly 50 MGD of water per day, would get additional 55 MGD of water, which would be sufficient for the projected population of nearly 25 lakh up to 2031. And with the second phase of this project worth (Rs 624.52 cr ) the water will suffice the need of projected population of Jammu city (nearly 37. 5 lakhs) up to 2046.
Sources in the PHE, I&FC department revealed that not much progress was witnessed on this Jammu centric project during BJP-PDP regime despite the fact that this prestigious long term project would suffice the need of drinking water supply to the people of expanding winter capital city up to 2046.
Initially, Rs 1008 crore water supply project was prepared by ERA to cater to the need of drinking water by lifting 500 MLD water per day from river Chenab near Akhnoor for the Greater Jammu during 2010 and Asian Development Bank had agreed to fund this project. The then State Cabinet gave the nod to the project to be completed in two phases. The project had been designed to cater to the need of water supply for the Greater Jammu for the next 30 years. The river Tawi was found inadequate to meet the demand of water supply for over 13 lakh souls in next one decade. But after the lapse of three years and slow progress shown by concerned agencies, the ADB dropped the project in 2013.
Giving details, Director ERA Jammu, Majid Wani Shabnam said that water will be lifted from river Chenab and water channel will be dug about 70 mt down stream the existing old bridge on the left bank of the river at Akhnoor. The intake structure would be raised there and the water would be taken up to Gurha Pattan, about one kilometer from this point, where water treatment plant will be constructed. The water testing has already been performed.
Replying to a question, the Director (CE) said the water by gravity from this point will be taken to Muthi (Jammu) Central Pumping Station for storage, through double pipes of 1.8 mt diameter, covering about 20 km distance. It will be lifted to upper Roop Nagar storage tanks and then supplied to the city areas where water deficiency exists.
The proposed areas to be covered in Jammu north- west are: Roop Nagar, Ban Talab, Muthi, Durga Nagar, Buta Nagar, Janipur, Indira Colony, Bhawani Nagar, Naseeb Nagar, Patoli, Ploura etc. From the Muthi central storage point, the water will also be taken to Narwal pumping station and Belicharna with gravity. The water stored there will be supplied to the areas like Bathindi, Sunjuwan, Channi Himmat, Sainik Colony, Greater Kailash, Gangyal, Chatha, Raipur, Satwari, Jeevan Nagar, Airport Road area.
Giving present status of the project, Director ERA said that a DPR worth Rs 624.52 crore for Phase -I was prepared and JAICA had sought NOCs from Niti Ayog, MoHA, MoD etc. All these NOC have been forwarded to the funding agency through Department of Economics Affairs under the Union Ministry of Finance. Now, the JAICA team has given indication to pay visit and after it the work is expected to be commenced shortly, may be within in next six months. He said three years time period has been fixed for the completion of Phase-I of this project.
Chief Engineer PHE Jammu, Ashok Gandotra when contacted told that department was presently providing nearly 50 MGL of water per day to the population of over 14 lakhs in Jammu city.
He said the net requirement of water for the existing city population is 65 MGL of water per day. So, 15 MGL of water shortage was still there in Jammu city. He said the city is depend on 262 Tube wells and three filtration plants located at Shitlee, Dhounthli and Boria (Near Gorkha Nagar). Recently, the PHE department has asked ERA to construct 68 more Tube wells in Jammu in next two years to cater to the water need of Jammu people. Funds to the tune of Rs 350 crore are being released for the same.
“Our major pumping stations like Sitlee near Nagrota bypass, Boria near Bagh-e-Bahu, Dhounthli (Panjtirthi), Company Bagh near main Tawi bridge and Muthi (Akhnoor Road) are mainly dependent on power supply. These stations have to feed all the reservoirs. Minimum 20-hour power supply per day is required to these stations to ensure smooth supply of water in city which is not possible under existing grim power supply position,” he maintained.