Exercise to retrieve encroached land yet to begin
JAMMU, Mar 20: Owing to prolonged procedural delays, uncertainty is prevailing over early start of work on Rs 172.73 crore worth River Devika Rejuvenation Project, which was sanctioned over one year back by the Union Government with the aim to restore the sanctity of the holy river and beautify its banks.
The ambitious project was sanctioned by the Union Government in February 2017 and then it was included in the National River Conservation Project. For preparation of Detailed Project Report (DPR), Housing and Urban Development Department of J&K Government engaged the empanelled consultant of Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs namely M/s ALPS Engineers, Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh.
However, the preparation of Detailed Project Report for sewerage system, construction of Ghats and beautification of the area along holy River Devika took unduly long time because of the dilly-dallying approach of the consultant, official sources told EXCELSIOR.
Finally, the Detailed Project Report was submitted to the Directorate of National River Conservation, which functions under the administrative control of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, by the J&K’s Housing and Urban Development Department Vide Communication No. HUD/ Plan/ 08/2017 dated December 15, 2017 for accord of necessary approval and release of funds.
However, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change vide Communication No.J-27023/1/ 2016-NRCD-II dated January 5, 2018 returned the Detailed Project Report to the Housing and Urban Development Department of J&K Government with some observations and further directions that after necessary modifications in the DPR the same shall be sent to Alternate Hydro Energy Centre, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee for independent appraisal, sources informed.
Accordingly, the necessary modifications as per the observations of the Directorate of National River Conservation, Government of India were incorporated in the Detailed Project Report by the consultant and last month the modified DPR was submitted to the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre, IIT Roorkee for independent appraisal.
“Since then the DPR is going through independent appraisal process at IIT Roorkee”, sources said, adding “no communication of any sort has been received from Alternate Hydro Energy Centre since the submission of DPR”.
Expressing inability to specify time-frame for start of work on the ambitious project, they said, “nobody knows whether the Alternate Hydro Energy Centre of IIT Roorkee clears the Detailed Project Report or suggests more modifications and in that eventuality finalization of DPR will take more time”, adding “it would be only after clearance of DPR that Housing and Urban Development Department through Urban Environment Engineering Department (UEED) will float tenders for execution of the project, which again is a time consuming process”.
According to the sources, even no major headway has been made on retrieval of land encroached along the banks of River Devika or elsewhere which is coming under the alignment of sewerage network despite the fact that matter has already been taken up by UEED with the Udhampur district administration.
Moreover, the land for construction of three Sewerage Treatment Plants (STPs) to treat effluent waste directly discharging into holy river has yet not been acquired despite the fact that land papers after necessary authentication by the Chief Engineer, UEED have already been submitted to the Udhampur district administration for finalization of acquisition process, they said.
When contacted, an officer of the UEED said, “it would be only after clearance of DPR by Alternate Hydro Energy Centre of IIT Roorkee and selection of executing agency that work on the project will begin”. He further said, “the land for Sewerage Treatment Plants is not a major issue and can be decided at later stage”.
However, sources said, “all the issues are required to be addressed simultaneously so that no problem is faced during the execution of project”. “All this clearly indicates that uncertainty is prevailing over early start of work on the project even more than one year after its sanctioning by the Union Government”, they added.
It is pertinent to mention here that DPR proposes eliminating of raw sewage flow into holy river, diverting the same for treatment, building low-cost sanitation toilets to prevent open defecation on river banks and setting up of improved crematoria for proper cremation of human bodies brought to the ghats and river front development works like landscaping etc.