‘Employees of WAPCOS without any salary for the last twelve months’
Anantnag: The Central government’s Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM) has met a severe roadblock in Kashmir, as the Jal Shakti Department has halted payments to a Third-Party Monitoring Agency for more than a year now.
The ambitious JJM is aimed at providing individual tap connection of running water to every rural household in India by 2024. The project is being executed by the Public Health Engineering (PHE) Department, now called the Jal Shakti Department, in Kashmir.
A monitoring agency, WAPCOS, was hired to verify as well as monitor the work done under the aegis of the mission. The company, a government-owned consultancy services firm, has about 60 employees in Kashmir who have been monitoring the progress of the JJM.
However, for the past year now, the Jal Shakti Department has put to halt all payments to the WAPCOS, which has hindered the progress made on JJM.
“Excellent work was being done on JJM in Kashmir for some time, but then some vested interests levelled allegations and raised false flags to undermine the work WAPCOS has been doing,” a source told Kashmir Reader.
He said that the unfounded complaints and allegations led to some misunderstanding between the WAPCOS and the Jal Shakti department, subsequently manifesting into the latter stopping all payments to the former.
“The employees of the WAPCOS are now without any salaries for the last twelve months or so, they have exhausted their savings. The company has not been able to sustain their other expenses in Kashmir as well,” the source told Kashmir Reader.
The sources said that if squeezed further, the monitoring agency might abandon Kashmir valley and it will ultimately hit the progress being made under the JJM. “A monitoring agency is necessary and without them the work done will mean nothing. Or for that matter, if they leave the work might be put to a halt as well,” the source said.
A source in WAPCOS told Kashmir Reader that some negotiations are now taking place between the Jal Shakti Department and the company, since last more than twenty days now.
“We are really hoping that they will break some ice and payments are released,” the source said, adding that it will not only help release salaries but it will also maintain the good work being done under the JJM.
Kashmir Reader tried talking to the Chief Engineer of the Jal Shakri department, Basharat Jeelani, but he did not attend multiple calls made by this reporter.
Deputy Secretary to Government for Jal Shakti, Aijaz Ahmad, refused to comment on the issue. “Chief Engineer will be the best person to talk to. I do not deal with this,” he said.