Revenue Minister’s claim in assembly not holding on ground
Pastoona (Tral): Contrary to claims by Revenue Minister, Abdul Rehman Veeri on the floor of the Assembly in January this year, Roads and Buildings (R&B) department is yet to submit an indent for Syed Abad-Khrew road to the forest department, despite repeated reminders by the latter during last three years.
The eight to ten kilometer stretch-estimated at a cost of around 16 crore rupees- is supposed to connect the Pastoona area in Tral to Wahab Sahab Shar in Pampore of Pulwama district.
The road will be a revival of a Mughal era track cutting the travelling time from Tral to Srinagar by around 45 minutes.
Besides, the road can be a major tourist attraction for it cuts through the thick, picturesque Vastoorvan forest cover.
The customary foundation stone to the project was laid, amid much fanfare, by the Tral lawmaker, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, around three years ago.
Shah, prompted apparently by the lack of interest government was showing the project, raised a question in the Legislative Assembly on January 19, earlier this year, seeking answers on progress of the project.
Replying to the question Minister for Revenue, Relief, Parliamentary Affairs, Abdul Rehman Veeri, maintained that the indent for forest clearance has already been submitted to the DFO concerned.
“Construction of Pastoona, Tral to Wahab Sahab, Khrew road has been started from Tral side,” Veeri said, adding that an indent has been placed with the DFO concerned for issuance of forest clearance due to involvement of 108 Kanals of forest land.
Documents in possession of Kashmir Reader, however, speak otherwise.
The concerned District Forest Officer (DFO) Awantipora, Farooq Ahmad Dar, in his letter number, 4711-16 Awpt/2017-18, dated February 05 has “once again” requested the concerned R&B Executive Engineer (Pulwama) to submit an indent before the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, J&K.
“Please refer this office aforementioned reference on the subject, where under it was requested to place the indent before Pr Chief Conservator of Forests, J&K for use of forest land for the construction of aforesaid road but so far nothing has been received by this office on this score,” the letter reads.
It further requests, “once again” that an indent be placed so that further action can be taken in this regard.
This, however, is not the first letter to be sent to the R&B officials.
DFO Awantipora, Farooq Ahmad Dar, told Kashmir Reader that at least three to four letters have already been sent prior to this one.
“There has been no response whatsoever from the R&B department,” Dar said.
He said that he has surveyed the proposed road site twice and has all the necessary details regarding the forest department’s response to the awaited indent in place.
Moreover minister Veeri during the Question Hour had claimed that work has already been started from Tral side.
A visit to the spot though reveals that the work was started shortly after laying of the foundation stone but was stopped soon and never resumed, thereafter.
Locals told Kashmir Reader that only a Kilometer of the track was mended some 3 years back and then the work was abandoned.
The Chief Engineer R&B department, Abdul Hamid’s response to the issue also vindicates the claims of the forest department.
“How can we submit an indent unless the work gets sanctioned to us under an appropriate head,” Hamid said, while talking to Kashmir Reader.