Wular Lake Dredging

Wular Lake Dredging
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The Jammu and Kashmir administration’s ministerial panel has awarded the contract to dredge the fresh water Wular lake to two companies- one a China based Hubei Hongyan Engineering Company Limited and the other the Kolkata based Reach Dredging Limited. It is pertinent to note that the latter company, that is, Reach Dredging Limited was blacklisted and put on notice by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department for failing to complete dredging of the Jhelum River. Given importance of conserving, preserving and perhaps even restoring the pristine glory of Lake Wular, it is essential to award the contract to dredge it to the best and the most efficient firm. But, what has been observed is that a tainted firm has been afforded the privilege. Granted that the contract is in the nature of a Joint Venture but Joint Ventures(JVs) have not had a great record in terms of operating efficiency(ies)- both in management theory and practice. Cultural and work culture differences, among other things preclude smooth functioning of Joint Ventures. Moreover, the nature and details of the contract have not come into public notice. It has been decided by a ministerial panel but what expertise and qualifications do ministers have to judge and adjudicate. Matters of this nature must be decided upon by technocrats who have the requisite and relevant technical expertise. This is insofar as the nature of the contract and its award is concerned. In terms of preserving and conserving Lake Wular, dredging might not be the only solution. The reasons for the shrinking of the lake accrue from encroachment on the lake, environmental degradation, pollution and other allied factors. In this sense, dredging can only solve one aspect of the problem. What actually is required is a holistic and a whole of system approach to tackle and , if possible, reverse the shrinkage of the lake. This calls for a symbiotic approach and methodology that synthesizes the technical with the political and the social. In essence, what is called for is a multi stakeholder approach that , first, vigorously understands the nature of the problem and the issue and then devises politico- social cum technocratic approaches to restore Lake Wular to its pristine glory. Will this whole of system approach be forth coming? If the past is any guide and if the condition of the Dal Lake is any indicator, the answer, sadly, is no.


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