The much hyped Rs 1500 crore worth World Bank funded Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project, which was sanctioned in early 2016, has remained on papers till date as Government has failed to evolve unified operational system on the lines of Jammu and Kashmir Economic Reconstruction Agency.
The dilly-dallying approach towards this vital aspect is notwithstanding the fact that Minister for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction himself admits that unless Project Implementation Arrangements are reviewed and single window system is evolved the project is unlikely to be completed within stipulated time-frame.
In September 2014, Jammu and Kashmir experienced torrential rains causing major flooding and landslides. The continuous spell of rains caused Jhelum, Chenab and Tawi Rivers as well as many other streams/tributaries to flow above the danger mark. The Jhelum River also breached its banks flooding many low-lying areas in Anantnag, Srinagar and adjoining districts.
In the aftermath of devastating floods, the Government of India requested assistance from World Bank and after numerous visits by the team of World Bank the Union Government and World Bank signed 250 Million US Dollar credit agreement under the Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project in January 2016.
This project has seven components—reconstruction and strengthening of critical infrastructure; reconstruction of roads and bridges; restoration of urban flood management infrastructure; restoration and strengthening of livelihoods; strengthening disaster risk management capacity; contingent emergency response and implementation support.
Even a Steering Committee, Project Management Unit and Project Implementing Units were constituted and entrusted with different responsibilities so as to kick start work on the project.
However, despite lapse of one and half years the Government has failed to ensure start of work on any of the components of the project mainly because of dilly-dallying approach of Project Implementing Units—Public Works Department, Srinagar Municipal Corporation and Industries and Commerce Department, in formulating Detailed Project Reports (DPRs).
The Industries and Commerce Department has formulated some DPRs while as DPRs are still being formulated by two other Project Implementing Units—PWD and SMC, they said, adding the inordinate delay in formulation of DPRs is notwithstanding the fact that World Bank funded project is required to be executed within a period of three years and over one year has already lapsed.
“The unwarranted delay in formulation of DPRs is mainly because Project Management Unit doesn’t have direct control over Project Implementing Units, which have their own Administrative Secretaries and Ministers”, sources said, adding “basically no serious attention was paid towards having unified operational system for the execution of Rs 1500 crore worth project at the time of working out Project Implementation Arrangem-ents”.
“Had the concerned authorities of the State Government and the World Bank team paid serious attention towards having unified operational system at the time of working out Project Implementation Arrangements the prevailing situation could have been avoided”, sources said while disclosing that even Project Management Unit is lacking the powers as well as bare minimum manpower required for performing the duties assigned to it.
Pointing towards Economic Reconstruction Agency (ERA), sources said, “this Agency has succeeded in executing various projects of immense public importance only because it was given all the powers as well as dedicated manpower”, adding “it is not understandable as to why unified operational system on the lines of ERA was ignored in respect of Rs 1500 crore worth World Bank funded project and implementation arrangements were worked out in such a manner that ensuring coordination between Project Management Unit and Project Implementing Units has become a challenging task”.
“As the Government has been left with less than two years period for execution of Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project, it should immediately review the Project Implementation Arrangements and provide dedicated manpower and powers to Project Management Unit on the lines of ERA otherwise J&K would get deprived of Rs 1500 crore”, sources stressed.
When contacted, Minister for Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, Abdul Rehman Veeri confirmed that there was dire need of revisiting the Project Implementat-ion Arrangements and creation of single window on the lines of ERA. “If the unified operational system is not evolved we may not be able to fully avail the benefit of Rs 1500 crore worth project within the stipulated time-frame”, he added.
“I am going to take up this issue with the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti so that necessary corrective steps are initiated at the earliest”, he further said in response to a question