The much-hyped Makhdoom Sahib ropeway, which ran right over Srinagar’s biggest graveyard, the Malkha, has gone defunct within two years of its inauguration.
Officials confirmed that the Makhdoom Sahib ropeway in downtown has been closed since May 17 this year, as its operation was a threat to lives of passengers. A recent inspection report has corroborated that ropes and towers of the ropeway are unsafe and thus could endanger lives of the passengers. At the time of its inauguration, no clearance was sought from the Environment Management Committee (EMC), which is mandatory.
Inaugurated in December 2013, the 550 meter ropeway has been built by the Jammu and Kashmir Cable Car Corporation (JKCCC) through Kolkatta based Ropeway and Resorts Pvt Ltd. Sources said at the time of the project execution, the then government was so eager to get the ropeway completed that it ignored some of the basic safety norms laid down for such constructions.
The concerned MLA and than the Law Minister Ali Muhammad Sagar was on the forefront of getting the project completed by hook or crook. A senior official privy to the project execution said that Sagar asked the concerned officials not to pay any heed to legal issues of adhering to the laid down norms like clearance from the EMC as he, being the Law Minister, would take care of the issue.
Then the Managing Director of JKCCC Tufail Mattoo who wanted to be in the good books of the government pressurised his subordinates to avoid adhering to norms for speedy completion of the project. Experts believe that had the quality check of machinery been done in time, there would have been no trouble.
The General Manager JKCCC Badr-ul-Jamali has been saying that it was only on May 1 of this year that they found some of the components in the ropeway defective.
“We have sought explanation from the company which designed the ropeway. An inspection was carried out on May 1, this year and defective components were found in the ropeway. Later, the ropeway had to be closed down due to risk involved in its continuity. The ropeway is under warranty and the concerned company has been asked to rectify the wrongs at an earliest. We are expecting its resumption within three weeks,” Jamali said.
The revenue collected from the “flawed project” has been “nothing but peanuts”, officials say. The revenue collected from the project so far has been mere Rs 25 lakh. And this was spent to clear the electricity dues.
Meanwhile, highly placed sources said that the ruling PDP won’t initiate any enquiry into the alleged scam, as the official who was in charge of the project happens to be close to a senior minister in the coalition government. Sources said that if an inquiry is ordered he will be the first one to be in trouble, but as he is heading a pivotal post and with the minister shielding him there is no chance of any enquiry against him, adding that otherwise Vigilance Organisation Kashmir was about to file a case against the said official. .
The concerned MLA of Khanyar who is accused of patronising the project in the absence of legal clearance, is mum on this issue. The project meanwhile continues to mock at the developmental plank which all the governments sell in Kashmir.