Only Rs 4 cr expenditure by Directorate of Tourism Jammu against Rs 30 cr budget

Up-gradation & creation of new infrastructure at tourist spots

Govt takes serious note, issues  warning to Engg Wing

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Dec 10: Shocking it may sound but it is a fact that against Rs 30 crore kept at its disposal for up-gradation and creation of new infrastructure at tourist spots across the Jammu region, the Directorate of Tourism has made expenditure of only Rs 4 crore till date. Due to this, threat of lapse of maximum funds is looming large as only three months have left for the closure of the current financial year.
The poor expenditure during the past nine months has put a big question mark on the performance of those at the helm of affairs in the Directorate particularly the Engineering Wing, which was supposed to float the tenders well in time for optimum utilization of funds released by the Government.
Reliable sources told EXCELSIOR that during the current financial year (2021-22), the budget of the Directorate of Tourism Jammu was kept at Rs 30 crore for up-gradation and improvement of tourism infrastructure in different parts of Jammu division and to build the requisite infrastructure in newly identified areas in order to attract the tourists there.
However, right from the very beginning of the financial year there was non-seriousness at various levels in the Directorate about effective and timely utilization of funds kept at its disposal by the Government and this can be gauged from the official figures, which reveal expenditure of only Rs 4 crore till date against the availability of Rs 30 crore, sources informed.
“Only very few tenders for different nature of works were floated till October ending but during the past two months large number of works were put to tender that too after the Administrative Secretary of the Department expressed anguish over the slackness in an official meeting convened to review the progress of works and utilization of funds by the Directorate of Tourism Jammu”, they further informed.
Disclosing that Administrative Secretary even warned of recommending the names of the officials particularly in the Engineering Wing of the Directorate to the Government for being declared as non-performing, sources said, “had there been no warning from the Administrative Secretary even tenders would have not been floated by the Directorate in the months of November and December”, adding “even after floating of tenders the threat of lapse of huge funds is looming large as within three months the financial year will close and procedural formalities have yet not been completed to pave the way for start of the tendered works”.
“Even small works like annual maintenance of Tourist Reception Centres at Bhaderwah, Suchetgarh, Katra, Jammu Railway Station; repair and renovation of huts at Patnitop, Chinta in Doda and at Sanasar and repair and renovation of Assistant Director offices were tendered last month and this is the clear testimony of non-performance of the entire Engineering Wing of the Directorate”, sources said.
The other works which were tendered in the recent past are development of water body at Jandi Kathua by way of construction of walkway, sitting benches and other allied facilities; construction of boundary wall by way of chain link fencing at Ujj Park; construction of dormitory at Chounta Mata Ramnagar; development of Gowda Gali at Gool Ramban; development of wayside amenities by way of construction of cafeteria with toilet facilities en-route NH44 Udhampur (Mand) and along Katra Shiv-Khori Road.
In the tenders, time-frame ranging between 30 days to 90 days has been fixed for the completion of these works after the allotment of contract. Had tenders been floated soon after the beginning of the financial year these facilities would have been made available much earlier, sources said, adding “with such a careless approach how Directorate can promote tourism in Jammu region remains a million dollar question”.
“Keeping in view the sheer incompetence in the utilization of funds meant for creation of facilities for the tourists, the Directorate of Tourism particularly the Engineering Wing requires complete overhaul so that objective behind release of funds by the Government could be achieved”, sources stressed
EXCELSIOR made repeated telephonic calls to the Director Tourism Jammu Vivekanand Rai to ascertain the steps being taken to improve the situation vis-à-vis utilization of funds but there was no response.