Your kind attention is invited to the following few lines:
That our many development projects have ended in a fiasco. Some of these are described as under:
01) Chrar-I-Sharif Development Project:
In the year 1995, the Chrar-I-Sharif shrine of the most venerated Sufi Saint of Kashmir Hazrat Shaikh Noor-ud-din (RA)- (built-in 1460 AD) was burnt along with the surrounding age-old town comprising of over a thousand houses and two-hundred stores, during the combat of militants with armed forces. Some restoration works were executed up to 1999, whereafter the Chrar-I-Sharif Development Project was started. I was posted as its Project Officer when three ministers took a personal interest in getting the works executed at a fast speed after overcoming all bottlenecks like court cases, etc. However, it took two years to obtain a loan of Rs 25 crore from HUDCO to be returned after 15 years in easy installments with a little interest. HUDCO would release the sanctioned amount in installments after receiving the utilisation certificates for the previous releases. On the release of their first installment of Rs 5 crore, previous liabilities were cleared, besides new works like the development of a park on the west side of the shrine and other ancillary items of work of the Chrar-I-Sharif Model Town were taken up. When the work was in full swing, a change of guard took place in the State Government and as usual, old projects suffer from new set ups, so happened to this project as well.
2) Inland Water Transport Project from Pampore to Chattabal:
The project was formulated by Srinagar Development Authority in the year 1997-99 retaining M/S Rites of international repute as consultants when I was posted as its Project Director and a Detailed Project Report was prepared for execution, which would reduce the traffic pressure on some roads of the Srinagar city, besides serving as a tourist attraction as most of the heritage sites of the city of Srinagar are located on either bank of river Jhelum. As in earlier days, the water transport was the only means of transport and tourists would buy arts and crafts of Kashmir from the showrooms located on the banks of river Jhelum on the either side and thus the tourist trade on river banks would also get revived.
The Govt was very enthusiastic to execute the project but only signboards at various boarding sites were erected and a couple of small boats were kept at Zero Bridge with heavy fare charges, while as the project envisaged launching of 50-seated motorboats for passengers and 25-seated motorboats for tourists. The Project Report is gathering dust on the shelves of I&FC Department for 22 years. It would add a feather to the cap of the present set-up if the project is executed.
3) Skew bridge on river Jhelum near Presentation Convent School:
The motorable bridge was constructed in 2017 up to the deck level at a whopping cost of Rs 12 crore. Suddenly one fine day it was decided on flimsy grounds by the agencies to provide the decking of a footbridge instead of the motorable one and steel girders were procured and steel decking with roofing was built, defeating the very purpose for which such a huge investment was made. A PIL in Honb’le High Court convinced the then Honb’le Chief Justice that the bridge should come up as a motorable bridge as reported by the amicus curie. Meanwhile it is reported that even the pertinent file has been misplaced in the Honb’le High Court and the huge investment made for the construction of the motorable bridge has gone to waste. There is still time to get the decking replaced with the designed RCC beam and slab decking to ease the pressure on the roads of the city center.
4) New Ganderbal Hydroelectric Project (NGHEP):
It was in the year 1992 that the NGHEP was taken up for building its infrastructure when M/S Thapar Consultants had already prepared its DPR and I was posted as its Executive Engineer. The project is very near the city and has the advantage of incurring minimum transmission losses, besides having the land acquisition process completed and most of the infrastructure built. Besides the proposed portal of water supply to the Rangil Water Supply Project, it would boost the city water supply. Every now and then we hear the project will be taken up and completed within the fixed time but what is holding the execution of the project is not understood. Perhaps the political disturbances have been responsible, but the present set-up is in a position to deliver the goods if they want.
Like this, there are many more projects that could make a public impact besides providing relief to the suffering masses on account of the decades of disturbances in our region.
Er Mohammad Ashraf Fazili
Former Chief Engineer and Chairman, IEI, J&KSAC