Patnitop Aerial Ropeway

Patnitop aerial ropeway project, a subject that has figured in our editorials several times in the past, is a classical example of official apathy and administrative inertia that have gripped our State. One thing is clear. Procrastinating the clearance of the project for eleven long years, and now the same Forest Advisory  Committee that had kept the case hanging for more than a decade, clearing it in unprecedented hurry shows that there were elements working against its clearance and that there were no technical bottlenecks at the end of the day. An official missive from the Chief Minister to the concerned to expedite the matter of clearance worked like electric shock and the FAC, getting jittery, cleared not only this project but a few more that were also hanging fire for many years.
This project was conceived by CM Mufti Mohammad Sayeed way back in 2004 during his first stint as the CM of a coalition Government. What had motivated him at that time was the novel idea of boosting tourist industry in Jammu region. The people of this region had been complaining of neglect of tourism although there were many spots in the region that could be developed for the attraction of tourists. It took authorities three years to lay the foundation stone of the project after PDA Board had granted approval. With that began the tortuous journey of the project facing one after another obstruction from significant as well as non-significant authorities. The labyrinthine through which the project was made to go consumed nine long years. At every stage and every turn of processing the case, the mandarins opened a plethora of objections with the singular objective of forestalling it in whatever way they could. Several departments like Forest, Revenue, Environment, Tourism, PWD, PDD were intentionally or unintentionally dragged into the fray with the sole purpose of delaying the commissioning of the project. In particular, the role of the prime actor meaning the Department of Tourism played not only negative but vicious role that undoubtedly went against the interests of the State as a whole and of the people of the region were the proposed project was to see the light of the day. Not only that, even the Apex Court willy-nilly stepped in and had a role to play at a specific point of time for clarifying certain pre-requisites. Thus, the project had to travel a long thorny path all these eleven years. From this case, one can understand the wobbly mindset of our administrators be they the political leaders or the bureaucratic echelons or others.
The Chief Minister also holds the charge of Tourism. In a recent meeting of the Patnitop Development Authority Board of Directors, presided over by the Chief Secretary, the matter of inordinate delay in the clearance of the ropeway project came up for discussion. It was disclosed that the State Forest Advisory Committee had been sitting on the files and was reluctant to clear the case for reasons best know to them. But in the light of the Chief Minister asking all departments to expedite the completion of pending projects, the FAC hurriedly called a meeting and recorded clearance of the project. Interestingly, it took the Committee eleven long years to grant permission to felling of just eleven trees of Pinetop forest and make the way for the ropeway project.
While appreciating Chief Minister’s initiative of impressing upon the bureaucracy that pending projects need to be expedited for completion, and the Patnitop aerial ropeway making a good example, we expect him to direct his attention to other long pending developmental projects in the State. These include some of the Centrally sponsored projects as well. Owing to lack of interest in executing these projects according to their time schedule, the State has lost good deal of funding from the Central Government ministries and this all to the detriment of the people of the State. We would suggest that the Chief Minister asks the  Department  of Planning to prepare a status report on the delayed, expired or withdrawn projects proposed and financed by the Centre and also suggest ways and methods of how these can be brought to completion or revived and revitalized. After all, these projects are meant to improve the quality of life in the State of Jammu and Kashmir and as such cannot be left to the whims and caprice of the mandarins or the politicos. We are confident that most of these abandoned or mishandled projects can be revived and brought to life after taking them up with the concerned Union Ministries. But that can be done only when the State Government has a clear picture of the status of those defunct or abandoned projects.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here