SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government’s unprofessional handling of a World Bank-funded project has deferred the ambitious study of the rivers Jhelum and Tawi meant to prevent floods in the state. Since 2015, the year when it was in-principle approved, the government has done more work in getting officers transferred than any serious follow-up on the proposed study.
“We have recently hired consultants for the study, who are yet to start work. This should have been done in a couple of months but has taken three years,” said an official associated with the project.
“Now the consultants will take some time to get started. If all goes well, the work will be complete in the next two years,” he said.
The consultants, who would be paid Rs 66 crore out of the Rs 1,500 crore allotted for the project, have to do a morphological study of the rivers Jhelum and Tawi that will guide a draft plan for prevention of floods. The consultants have also been assigned another study to enable a check on hazards of floods.
The devastating floods in 2014 should have made this study a priority. The delay will only keep the Valley vulnerable for more years.
Last year, as per sources, the government transferred the chief executive officers of the project more than half-a-dozen times, until Vinod Sharma took over. Sharma has so far been successful in hiring consultants, but nothing else.
“We got the project in 2015, but only in-principle. The application was processed later in 2016. The first year went in that process only,” Sharma told Kashmir Reader. “Then, tenders were invited. Four consultants, three foreign and one Indian, were selected. It took one year. Now the work will start soon,” he added.
Asked why it has been two years since the project application was approved, Sharma said he will need to go through the documents to check.
Last week’s incessant rain brought Kashmir to the verge of another flood. Many low-lying localities were submerged in Srinagar and other districts. In Lasjan, locals helped the government to raise the embankment of Jhelum when the river was almost spilling over.