Posted on March 28, 2016
The much hyped Jhelum dredging project is yet to take off despite tall claims of the authorities as the defective “high-tech” dredger afloat Jhelum River here is yet to extract any deposits from the river bed.
Though the company tasked to de-slit the river bed claims that the dredger was made operational two weeks back but for the past 15 days the dredger seems sitting idle.
On March 6, Kolkata-based Reach Dredging Limited, the firm which has been tasked by the JK government with dredging the river, had claimed that the dredging has ‘officially’ started but due to technical hitch the dredger is yet to suck any deposits from the river.
The Irrigation and Flood Control Department (I&FC) has awarded Rs 46 crore project to the dredging firm after the company made the lowest bid in tendering process.
“We are working on the machine as we are trying to fix the problem as soon as possible. There is a problem with the dredger’s hydraulic system,” said a technician at Shivpora here, who on Monday was trying to fix the machine’s problem.
Dredging is a high-tech solution for removing sediments from the river or lake bottom through portable hydraulic machines called dredgers.
Another mechanic, who shared details, too was busy identifying the technical glitch and said that “even a small technical problem can derail the whole system of the dredger.”
“We are not able to fix it properly for the past many days. We hope we will fix it soon,” he said.
A hydraulic dredge floats on the water and pumps in the material through a temporary pipeline to an offsite location.
Another mechanic from the dredger’s mechanics team said it seems they (hydraulics team) don’t have know-how of hydraulics system.
“The machine needs a very qualified hydraulic mechanic in order to identify the problem in the dredger’s pump,” he said.
Experts too believe that the dredging project is going nowhere as there seems no proper thought given while devising a dredging plan.
“If after a month the dredger is only floating on the river and has not made progress then there is something seriously wrong with the much-hyped project,” Ajaz Rasool, a Hydraulics Engineer, told Greater Kashmir.
Rasool also questioned I&FC’s approach at a time when the actual dredging is yet to be started.
“What sort of contract is it despite the tall claims of authorities that they have de-silted this much of river, but on the ground there is no progress? This is wasting time,” Rasool said.
“To my knowledge the sediment transport data for Jhelum, if observed, has not been so far used to prepare a Sediment Transport Model that could form the basis of formulating a holistic dredging project both for Maintenance Dredging and Contingent Dredging,” he added.
Eye witnesses, who are living nearby dredging spot, confirmed to Greater Kashmir that the technicians are working on the machine for past 15 days and are still unable to fix the problem in the dredger.
“Every day we come here to see whether it started working or not. There is not a trace of sand or any sediment in the dump. There is a serious fault with the dredger as from past 15 days they couldn’t identify problem to fix it,” Amir Ahmad, a resident of Shivpora said.
The I&FC officials who have been assigned to supervise the dredging process said that they are putting pressure at their level to fix the technical problem but there is no headway.
“We are putting pressure on them from past many days as we are also facing immense pressure from the people who are very eager to see dredging at any cost,” a senior official at the site told Greater Kashmir.
The dredging company had earlier reasoned for the delay in the dredging that they were without map to cut the sediments in the river.
“We are yet to receive a drawing to make the cuts in the river,” P Krishna Rao, Deputy General Manager of the firm had told Greater Kashmir.
But the I&FC officials authenticated that the firm had received the drawing much before the dredger arrived here.
“It is not possible that the project would have started without maps and drawings. They have the same copy which I have,” the official said while showing drawing details.
To get the firsthand account this Greater Kashmir correspondent on Monday visited the dredging spot while finding several men working on the machine to fix the problem. The dredger can be seen floating on river Jhelum near Shivpora locality.
“If they (dredging company) have failed what they (government) are waiting for? The company’s tender must be cancelled and given to other company,” locals said.
They said that in two weeks time they couldn’t fix a problem in this machine what if they get another problem much bigger than this one.
The company’s DGM said that he was out of station and not “feeling well.”
When contacted, Chief Engineer I&FC, Javed Jaffar, acknowledged the problem in dredger adding there was a technical snag in the dredger yesterday, but the “machine is now working.”
“There was some technical snag as the machine was shipped here from thousands of kilometres due to which it got some problem which has been fixed now. I got reports in the morning that the dredger is working,” Jaffar said.