Recommends gearing up of work to meet timelines
JAMMU, Mar 12: Putting concerned authorities of J&K in the dock, a Parliamentary Panel has expressed dis-satisfaction over pace of work on projects sanctioned for the State under two major schemes of the Union Tourism Ministry and has recommended gearing up of the work to meet the timelines and avoid cost overrun.
As per the report of the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism comprising of 10 Members of Rajya Sabha and 21 of Lok Sabha, which was tabled in the Parliament few days back, several projects and circuits were sanctioned for Jammu and Kashmir under two major schemes by the Union Ministry of Tourism titled PRASAD and Swadesh Darshan.
The scheme titled Pilgrimage Rejuvenation and Spiritual, Heritage Augmentation Drive (PRASAD) is aimed at bridging the infrastructure gaps between the required and the existing while as Swadesh Darshan is aimed at ensuring integrated development of theme based tourist circuits.
Under PRASAD scheme, a project for development of Hazratbal was sanctioned on December 28, 2016 at a cost of Rs 42.02 crore and against this an amount of Rs 19.23 crore (almost 50%) was released to the concerned executing agency of Jammu and Kashmir.
However, only 15% progress could be registered by the executing agency so far despite lapse of more than one year. Though the Union Tourism Ministry has claimed that project was going on planned pace yet the Parliamentary Panel has recommended gearing up of work to meet the time schedule and to avoid cost overrun.
Under Swadesh Darshan Scheme, five projects were sanctioned for J&K under Himalayan Circuit during 2016-17 financial year but except one the work on other projects is not up to the satisfaction of the Parliamentary Panel, read the report, the copy of which is available with EXCELSIOR.
Under Integrated Development of Tourist Facilities at Gulmarg-Baramulla-Kupwara-Leh Himalayan Circuit Theme sanctioned at a cost of Rs 96.93 crore, less than 20% progress has been registered by the concerned executing agencies. Similarly, under Integrated Development of Tourist Facilities at Mantalai-Sudhmahadev-Patnitop Himalayan Circuit Theme less than 20% progress has been achieved so far.
As far as Integrated Development of Tourist Facilities on Jammu-Rajouri-Shopian-Pulwama Himalayan Circuit Theme and Integrated Development of Tourist Facilities on Anantnag-Kishtwar-Pahalgam-Daksum-Ranjit Sagar Dam Himalayan Circuit Theme are concerned, the Union Tourism Ministry has not provided exact percentage of progress. It has only conveyed to the Parliamentary Panel that progress on these two components range between 30% and 50%.
The only project on which substantial progress has been shown relates to Integrated Development of Tourist Facilities under the construction of assets in lieu of those destroyed in floods in 2014 under Prime Minister’s Development Package.
Not satisfied with the pace of work on the projects under two major schemes of the Union Tourism Ministry, the Parliamentary Panel headed by Derek O Brien has recommended gearing up of work so as to ensure that projects are completed within the stipulated time-frame.
“Intensifying pace of work is imperative not only to complete the projects within the specified time-frame but also to avoid cost overruns, which result into demand for extra allocations and subsequently lead to delay in completion of the projects”, the Department Related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Tourism said in the report.
It is pertinent to mention here that tourism is a major engine of economic growth in Jammu and Kashmir and an important source of employment. It has great capacity to create large scale employment of diverse kind from the most specialized to the unskilled and hence can play a major role in creation of additional employment opportunities. It can also play an important role in achieving growth with equity and sustainability.
“Keeping all this aspect in mind, it is imperative on the part of State Government to ensure continuous monitoring of the projects so as to ensure their timely completion”, official sources said.