Development of infrastructure and basic amenities in the state of Jammu and Kashmir has been one of the core areas of the government. Key projects be it construction or widening of vital roads and highways or developing cities or latest infrastructure, the projects have been facing one or the other drawbacks.
The reality is that the government has to iron out many angularities to make projects time bound, cost beneficial and technically perfect. We can righty say that we are far away from modern methodology of making a success right from the time of conception to the final stage of making it functional.
Even though various experts groups or consultants are hired to get us out of the morass, things seem to be sticking to the same plan whose net result is utter failure. One thing that surfaces is the fact that we as a community and this includes out technocrats and the bureaucrats have not been able to learn from the big changes that are underway in the project development process in the rest of the world.
Projects which the government have termed dream projects, like the four laning of the Jammu-Srinagar Highway, connecting Kargil and Ladakh and development of other roadways in the state have been going on since the past twelve years now and no project has been able to meet its deadline or meeting the same even if several years of extra time has elapsed.
Ironically all this has been happening with the state claiming to have hired best brains to get these projects up and running. Our policy planners have gained vast experience of formulating and executing projects. The experience that has been thus gained needs to be put to practice, but alas nothing seems to be working on ground.
There has been no effort in tracing out the major deficiencies that have given us trouble occasionally. The first is inability of planners to keep the time line. It is a recurring problem. Either the initial time line proposed is not carefully calculated or there are some ground situations that hinder completion of the projects in hand. Among the ground realities, more conspicuous is the land acquisition issue which is dogging almost every developmental plan.
The state has a Land Acquisition Act in place, but despite that, major time is consumed by this item. It means there are lacunae in the Act which disallow expeditious execution of a project. In order to overcome this problem, it should be an option with the Government to examine the need of modifying the Act in a way that acquisition of land and payment of compensation are speeded up.
No effort has been made to constitute a tribunal which could have been empowered to take up the land compensation cases according to the requirements of the land owners.
Secondly, no plan is drawn out to tackle the issue of funding, release of funds at proper time, tackling the delay in funding, reassessment of cost of expenditure or abandoning of a work in hand by a company for various reasons.
All this suggests that the project monitoring apparatus is missing badly and this needs to be checked.