Srinagar: Dredging on the flood spill channel sharing the load of River Jhelum in Srinagar took a back seat, while authorities lost crucial time in technical wrangling.
Dredging for the phase 1 on flood spill channel – Padshahi Bagh to Hokersar – began officially in April 2017. While work on one section (Bemina bridge to Hokersar) has been going on, work on the upper section (Padshahi Bagh to Bemina) remained halted for more than six months because of what officials say, “unpaid bid money for silt (to be dredged)”.
“Its water carrying capacity is very less. The government is not acting while the dredging has hit a blockade from past six months,” said Mohmamd Sultan, a resident of Padshahi Bagh. “They are putting our lives at risk. Whenever there is some rain it directly affects our home.”
Another resident also lamented the sluggish pace of dredging.
Irrigation and Flood Control Officials (I&FC), however, partly blame people for the delay in dredging.
“The work was stopped because the locals weren’t liquidating the bid amount they were supposed to pay for the material excavated. Now the work has been resumed and we will try over level best to complete the pending work as soon as possible,” Assistant Executive Engineer, I&FC, Narbal, Mukhtar Ahmad said.
“There were some encroachments and it also delayed the work, since it took some efforts for the removal” he added.
Mukhtar Ahmad is in charge of the work from Padshahi bagh to Bemina bridge section of Phase 1.
The flood spill channel takes off from Jhelum at Padshahibagh and flows into Wullar lake in Bandipora district. It regulates Jhelum water level through the Srinagar city
While the work on Bemina bridge to Hokersar section has been going on since April 2017, and according to officials 70 percent of dredging work on the section has been completed, local residents were not satisfied with the pace.
“They took our lands and took lot of time to pay the compensation and moreover the widening of the flood channel is going at a slow pace, putting our lives and property in danger,” a group of residents at Bemina said.
Executive engineer, I&FC Siraj-u-din Shah, who is in charge of the Bemina to Hokersar section, said encroachments at many places affected the pace of work.
“The phase one had hit a complete roadblock earlier as there were some issues with the local residents as there was plantation all over, and illegal occupation of the land. It took us some time and effort to overcome this bottleneck and continue with our work. We even had to cut around 44000 trees,” Shah said.
Shah claimed that 70 percent of the work on the section was complete, but added that the remaining work would take another year.
“The estimated cost of the project is 399 crores (phase 1). The phase two is massive and would cost around 2000 crores as it would comprise entire flood spill of 47 kilometers up-to Wular in Bandipora. The work on phase two will start after work on phase one is complete”, he added.
Asked why the remaining work would take another year, Shah said, “It takes time to complete projects as carrying capacity of the flood spill would be increased to 25000 cusecs from the earlier 10000 cusecs. Plus there are two bridges under construction, one at Shareeafabad and another at Naidkhai, which is under JKPCC and will take some time for completion. We are taking advantage of the dry spell and will try to complete the work within stipulated time”.
He said along with the dredging, the other important measure is to strengthen the river and flood channel embankments which had been breached at many places during the 2014 flood.