Despite tall claims being made by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department (IFC), vis-a-vis the beautifications of Jhelum embankments, the situation on ground narrates a different story altogether.
The beautification works have been covered by the growth of cannabis plants as the cultivations can be found across long stretches on both the banks of river Jhelum in South Kashmir. The growth of these plants in district Anantnag nails the claims of IFC on beautifying river banks.
Notably, the previous Congress-PDP coalition government had announced a 3 Cr beautification cum development project near Dara Shikoh Bagh at Bijbehara. It is however, ironic that the government took 10 years to complete the project.
Besides, the then IFC minister had announced that 89.12 Cr would be spent on landscaping of the garden and 2.1 Cr have been earmarked for civil works to develop and beautify both banks of river near the Dara Shikoh garden.Locals said that work on the project was started after 2014 floods and the department initially started dredging woks near the site, but the unplanned dredging soon became a sand selling scam, which the locals resisted and got it stopped.
Locals said that work on the project was started after 2014 floods and the department initially started dredging woks near the site, but the unplanned dredging soon became a sand selling scam, which the locals resisted and got it stopped.
The locals also said that some civil works were started on one side of the Jhelum embankment but no change was visible, which according to the sanctioned project was the sole aim of the project.
“The concerned department says that they have spent a huge amount of money on beautifying the Jehlum banks, but the tall cannabis plants on both sides of the bank exposes their claims,” said, Javaid Ahmad, a local.
Another local said the former chief minister had directed the concerned department to develop the embankment in front of Dara Shikoh Bagh as park, but probably the IFC department showed more concern for the cannabis, he added.
Sources in the IFC say that the department has already made the payments to the contractors who were allotted the job of ensuring that the facelift of the embankments.
“We have partly paid the money to some contractors as they have been demanding release of payments against the work done. Besides, the contractors need to be paid so that they can restart the project and complete the works that have been left unfinished,” Executive Engineer, IFCAnantnag. Fareed Ahmad told Kashmir Vision.