*MGNREGA activities also start with 5800 works
JAMMU, May 9: The Roads and Buildings (R&B) Department has resumed work on several important projects like Govt Medical Colleges at Kathua, Rajouri, Doda, two colleges in Kashmir valley and longest bridge over river Chenab at Pargwal in Akhnoor sector besides several hospitals and other major projects in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.
Official sourfes told the Excelsior that in order to mitigate the economic hardships being faced by the public, specially by the labour class due to lockdown, the Union Government has allowed the resumption of work on some important projects with special emphasis on the Health and Medical Education related projects, other important Government buildings, bridges and highway projects. The work on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway has also been resumed at several places where the labour is available.
Sources further revealed that the work on GMC Rajouri, Doda and Kathua was resumed yesterday after 45 days while the construction at the sites for Cancer Hosiptal Jammu and Bone & Joint Hospital in the CD Hospital Complex at Bakshi Nagar has also started.
Not only this, the work on several important bridges including one at Pargwal in Khour area of Akhnoor sector, several bridges in Rajouri, Doda, Reasi, Kathua and Poonch has also been resumed. Though the agencies including R&B, JKPCC and major contractors are facing labour and material problem but the works said to have been resumed with minimum available manpower. Many labourers from outside J&K, specially in Kashmir, have already left in large number moreover, there are still restrictions on the extraction of miner mineral from the rivers and Nallahs by the G&M department and PCB authorities. A large number of movement passes from the concerned District Magistrates are required to seek movement of the work force and site engineers besides allied staff, the sources added.
Chief Engineer, R&B, Jammu DR Bhagat when contacted said that after getting directions from the State administration, the work on several important buildings and bridge projects has been resumed. He said instructions have been issued to all the concerned Executive Engineers of all the 21 R&B Divisions in Jammu to resume works, where the labour force is available or the material is already dumped. He said there are many sites where sand, stones, gravel etc are not available. There is extraction problem in some districts and sub divisions as well. The matter has been taken up with the concerned G&M department officials, he said.
Bhagat further disclosed that as of now, the work on GMC building Rajouri, Doda and Kathua has been launched. The work on Cancer Hospital in SSH Complex Jammu and Bone & Joint Hospital complex, adjoining CD Hospital has also been resumed. The work on 1.6 km long bridge over river Chenab connecting Pargwal Island villages with Khour tehsil headquarters was also resumed a couple of days ago. He said the SOPs as per COVID-19 guidelines are being taken care of and the concerned Xens and AEEs have been asked to closely monitor the operations at these sites. Social distancing norms and use of masks by the labourers and other field and supervisory staff is must at the sites, he added.
Responding to a question, the Chief Engineer said for the resumption of normal works including road projects, it may take some time because there is shaortage of labourers and material as well. For the issuance of movement passess of the field staff and labourers, the concerned DMs have been requested.
Chief Engineer, R&B Kashmir Sami Arif said that in Kashmir also, the work on important nature of projects, including bridges and hospitals has been resumed after getting instructions from the Union Home Ministry and the J&K UT administration. He said there is acute shortage of labourers in Kashmir and moreover, the supply of miner mineral is yet another major issue. The matter has been taken up with the Director G&M and the DMOs concerned as well. He said main focus is being laid on the GMCs/ Health institutions and bridges besides major roads.
Director Geology and Mining, J&K, Vikas Sharma when contacted said that there will be no problem for the R&B Divisions to lift miner mineral from the river / Nalla blocks, if they apply for short- term permits to the G&M department. The DMO is competent to issue such permits. But they have to complete the formailities including environment clearance from the PCB. The Executive Engineers, SEs and Xens concerned should apply for the short term permits for lifting stones, sand, gravel etc, he added.
When asked about the status of recently held auction and commencement of normal operation in river/ nalla blocks in J&K, the Director G&M said the process is going on and 86 Letters of Intent have been issued to the parties in Jammu region alone. They are completing the formalities like, submission of mining plan and environment clearance. There was lockdown also for many days and it caused some delay. As and when they complete this formality, the normal operation in river blocks would start, providing relief to the general public and Government departments as well, he said.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs has also allowed selected additional activities in rural areas in areas outside containment zones. The purpose is to give an impetus to the rural economy and also facilitate employment of labour class in rural areas.
Resuming the development activities in the UT, Rural Development Department (RDD) has started works under flagship employment guarantee scheme -MGNREGA to provide much needed mandays to rural people amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Official sources said that Block Bhalwal of Jammu district, is witnessing massive work execution under the job orientated MGNREGA scheme. Host of new works have been started and work on existing projects resumed across the block under the MGNREGA and other schemes.
The works are being executed as per the guidelines issued by the District Administration for protection against COVID-19 pandemic. The workers are provided safety masks and the works are being executed by maintaining adequate social distance.
Director RD Jammu, inspected the pace of work on some projects today. He also visited soil testing lab of Agriculture Department, constructed by Rural Engineering Wing at an estimated cost of Rs 49 lakh.
In Jammu division, 5800 works have started in all the 10 districts under the scheme. More than 25000 job card holders have been engaged in these works. The Director has instructed the concerned officers to complete all the works under MGNREGA, while ensuring the work is done as per the guidelines issued under COVID-19 pandemic.