Several deptts soft-paddling on execution of projects recommended by MHA’s STF

*Cost of many works escalated due to delay

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Dec 23: Fate of several projects recommended by the Special Task Force (STF) of the Union Ministry of Home Affairs for Jammu and Ladakh regions is hanging in balance despite lapse of several years mainly because of soft-paddling approach of the concerned departments of the State Government. Moreover, due to delay in execution the cost of many projects has even escalated thereby putting burden on the State exchequer.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that decision to constitute Special Task Force—one each for Jammu and Ladakh regions was taken by a Committee of Union Cabinet headed by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the year 2010 to identify the special developmental needs of these regions and suggest measures to address them.
Headed by the then Planning Commission members Abhijit Sen and Narendra Jadhav both the STF identified several projects for execution in a time-bound manner and funds were made available for such projects from the financial year 2011-12. It was specifically mentioned in the orders of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) as well as Planning and Development Department of J&K Government that these projects should be completed within a period of four years—by 2014-15.
However, several projects failed to meet the deadline of four years mainly because of dilly-dallying approach of the concerned departments in completing all requisite formalities like identification of suitable land, preparation of Detailed Project Reports in a time-bound manner and ensuring fast pace work, sources regretted, adding “even at present the Government is not in a position to specify any time-frame for completion of such projects because of sluggishness of the concerned authorities”.
“Moreover, due to slow pace of work the cost of many projects has escalated enormously and the State Government is finding it difficult to meet the additional cost as no special assistance is available from the Centre as per the stipulations set-forth during the year 2011-12”, they said, adding “in the absence of enough resources to meet the extra cost, the Government has been left with no other option but to release the funds in piecemeal which is again contributing to further delay in the completion of projects”.
According to the figures of Planning, Development and Monitoring Department, the estimated cost of STF projects for Jammu region was Rs 496.63 crore while as the cost of such projects for Kargil was Rs 226.51 crore. Against this, the expenditure ending March 2016 was Rs 350.59 crore in respect of Jammu projects and Rs 210 crore with regard to Kargil projects.
Quoting some examples, sources said that fate of much-needed Naigarh Water Supply Scheme in Kishtwar for which an amount of Rs 43.51 crore was recommended by the Special Task Force is still hanging in balance mainly because of lack of proper planning on the part of concerned authorities.
Major portion of water supply line of this scheme falls in the forest area but despite being aware of this the concerned authorities failed to timely obtain No-Objection Certificate (NOC) from Forest Department which created road-block and for want of clearance the work on the scheme stands abandoned at present, sources informed.
Similarly, up-gradation of industrial infrastructure in Jammu division is going on at snail’s pace even after failure to meet the deadline of four years for STF recommended projects, sources said while disclosing that as against Rs 63.17 crore recommended by the STF even 50% funds could not be expended till date. “Now for want of resources the State Government has been left with no option but to release funds in piecemeal like Rs 2 crore during the current financial year”, they added.
“The modernization of General Bus Stand and Development of Multi-Tier Parking at Jammu is also the testimony of slack approach of the concerned authorities”, sources said, adding the project was recommended by the STF in 2011 but the work has begun only few months back.
Disclosing that Special Task Force (STF) had recommended Solid Waste Management Projects for Udhampur and Rajouri towns, sources said, “fate of these projects is still hanging in balance mainly because of non-serious approach of the Urban Local Bodies Department and nobody knows when these projects will become reality”, adding “despite repeated concerns by the sitting MLAs, the department is not gearing up the work to give practical shape to the ambitious projects”.
As far as Kargil district is concerned, sources said that road connectivity for Cha Lungnak Block Zanskar is still a dream although an amount of Rs 13.80 crore was recommended by the STF for this project. “Similar is the fate of establishment of training centres for skill development particularly in handloom sector and projects in Roads and Buildings sector”, sources added.


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