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Government to Purchase 2 Dredgers After Outsourcing Jhelum De-silting Proves Futile

Posted on May 2, 2017

By Mudasir Yaqoob, Greater Kashmir

Government has accorded sanction to Irrigation and Flood Control Department to procure two dredgers after outsourcing of dredging project proved wastage of money and time.

Sources said that the development came after government expressed resentment over the slow process of dredging in River Jhelum and other water bodies and termed the outsourcing of the project as blunder.

Authorities had awarded Rs 44 crore dredging project to a Kolkata-based firm. However, the firm couldn’t complete the project in time.

“It even failed to execute 20 percent of the work under contract. The failure of the firm to complete the project is causing water level in river Jhelum to rise often with slightest of rains,” said an official.

An official informed that the authorities in Irrigation and Flood Control Department have also initiated exercise to revive erstwhile ‘Circle for Dredging’ to ensure increase in Jhelum’s carrying capacity. The Circle existed prior to 1986 and had proven to be an effective and economical option.

Confirming the development, Chief Engineer, Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Muhammad Hanief Lone said that the process to procure these dredgers will be completed shortly.

“I was Superintending Engineer in Sopore when two dredgers were purchased and pressed into service in north Kashmir some years ago. The records tell us that the cost of dredgers was recovered within few months of their working and still they are functional generating revenue for state apart from dredging out material from the river,” he said.

He said that similarly the proposed dredgers will be pressed into service in Srinagar. “Sand and silt dredged out from the river will be sold and this would facilitate recovery of cost of dredgers and maintenance charges besides generating revenue for the state,” he added.

Meanwhile, an official said that authorities are waiting for response from the Kolkata-based firm against the notice issued, asking them to pack up the bags.

The notice was served to the firm on April 12 this year as in Srinagar it had executed only 20-25 percent of the work assigned to it under contract of Rs 44 crore in 2015.

“The proposal to buy two more dredgers is a far sighted idea for equipping the existing fleet in Irrigation and Flood Control department. This decision should have been taken earlier. Unfortunately, the authorities outsourced the dredging at a cost of Rs 44 crore and the experiment failed. This speaks about the vision of the authorities,” said Ajaz Rasool, a hydraulic expert.

“The Kolkata-based firm was given contract under terms and conditions to complete the project within one year to which they have failed and executed only seventeen percent of the assigned work. The authorities should penalize the firm for inordinate delay and take action against them for not achieving project targets,” he said.

He added that the dredging done by the firm has not even achieved one percent of benefit.

“The objective of the contract has thus not fructified. Srinagar is still at the risk of floods as it was before the initiation of dredging in 2015. It has proved to be wastage of public money and time,” he added.

He added that authorities must complete all the process within shortest possible time to procure and press the proposed dredgers into service, adding, “Revive of erstwhile Circle for Dredging of the department should not be delayed any further.”

Source: Greater Kashmir

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