Posted on May 3, 2023
The irrigation & flood department has failed to start the second phase of much talked Jhelum river dredging project owing to paucity of funds and lack of response to the tenders worth Rs 229 crore.
Sources from the department told Kashmir Observer that the phase-II has hit a few bottle necks even as the central government has released some portion of funds for the work.
“We floated tenders for the second phase in the month of October last year but received cold response. Some companies requested to extend the deadline. Even after doing so, we didn’t receive any response,” said an official wishing not to be named.
He further said that the department will now float tenders afresh in the coming weeks.
In phase-II, the official said, the department intends to re-sectioning and re-grading of existing Flood spill channel and acquire around 19 kilometer land from Ningli Sopore onwards up to Khadinyar, Baramulla.
“We need around 300 crore from the J & K government for land acquisition because there are many residential and commercial buildings between Ningli to Khadinyar. Work can only be carried out once funds are released,” the official said.
The official further noted that the central government has so far released just Rs 114 crore out of 229 crore rupees.
The work in phase-II includes flood protection works on Jhelum tributaries, Veshow, Brengi, Lidder and Aripath Nallahs. Construction of stone pitching with toe wall on left & right side of River Jhelum, construction of flood protection works on tributaries like Sasara, Romshi, Watalara , Aripal, Rambiarah nallahs at various spots are also to be undertaken.
Besides it, other works include construction of hydraulic gate at entry point RD 11950 m and exit point RD 16713 m of Hokersar Wetland of flood spill channel, construction of guide wall (Retaining wall) on right and left side of River Jhelum at spots,
Protection works to tributaries of River Jhelum (Ningli Nallah, Gundari nallah, Balkul Nallah,Frashar Nallah, Khursi Nallah & Pohru Nallah). Protection works on Ferozpora Nallah (Magam & Kunzar branch) Providing of Toe Crate Protection works on Hudi, Farkan, Kalaroos, Hyhama, Varnow, Vij and Pohru Nallah at spots
It may be noted that following the devastating floods in 2014, the central government sanctioned a plan for the comprehensive flood management of the Jhelum River and its tributaries. The project was funded through the Prime Minister’s Development Package, and divided into two phases.
The phase-I was completed by the end of 2020 after missing several deadlines. The government said that this phase – which mostly involved the dredging of the river to remove sediment – would enhance the discharge carrying capacity of the Jhelum from 31,800 cusecs to 41,000 cusecs.
The official said Phase II of the plan would increase the carrying capacity of river Jhelum and its flood spill channel by 20,000 cusecs through dredging. At present, the carrying capacity of Jhelum is around 31,000 cusecs while that of the flood channel is around 8,700 cusecs.
Following the incessant rainfall in the valley from the last four days, the river Jhelum has once again swelled up and giving nightmare to the people who witnessed 2014 deluge.
However, Chief Engineer I&FC Kashmir, Naresh Kumar told Kashmir Observer that there were no flood threats and the Jhelum was flowing below danger mark.
“There were floods in the Tangmarg area of North Kashmir. The authorities have issued advisory to people not to venture out in that particular area but overall the situation is good. The rains have stopped now” he added.
While responding to the halt of Jhelum dredging phase—II project, he said, the work is partly underway.
“Right now the work is going on in Bemina, where people would always complain of floods. However, the work on flood-spill channels has been delayed.” Kumar said adding “We had invited the tenders but no company qualified for the same”
Pertinently, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) pulled up the irrigation & flood control (I & FC) department for lapses in achieving required targets for dredging Jhelum that had hamstrung the disaster management response post 2014 floods.
The audit by the CAG last February noted that the there was a shortfall of targets by I&FC department in terms of dredging that was required under the Prime Minister’s Development Package for Crisis Management project’s to increase the carrying capacity of flood waters of the Jhelum river and through the Flood Spill Channel (FSC).