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Jhelum Dredging : Deadline ending in 2 days, target still incomplete

Even as the deadline for the Jhelum dredging project is ending in just two days, the executing company is still far from achieving the target, with experts here cautioning that Srinagar today is as much at the risk of floods as it was in the pre-dredging period in 2015.
The Kolkata-based reach dredging limited has dredged just 5.75 lakh cubic meters silt from the river Jhelum in Srinagar against the target of 7 lakh cubic meters. “Srinagar is still at the risk of floods, as it was before the initiation of dredging in 2016,” said experts.
The deadline for completion of the project is ending on 31 March 2018. Authorities said that no further extension will be given to the firm.
On 6 March 2016, the company had ‘officially’ started the work on the project. Earlier irrigation and flood control department (I&FC) had awarded the Rs 46 crore project to it as the company’s bid was found the lowest.
The firm under the terms and conditions of the contract was required to complete the project within one year. However, it was given extension after it cited various reasons for the delay including the 2016 unrest.
Chief engineer, flood and irrigation control, Shanawaz Ahmad Mir told  that till mid-March, the company had dredged only 5.75 cubic meters in Srinagar against the target of 7 lakh cubic meters during past two years.
He said in Baramulla the company has dredged 5.90 lakh cubic meters against the target of 9.15 lakh cubic meters.
“There is no intention so far to further extend the deadline to the firm,’ the chief engineer said.
Post the devastating 2014 floods, the government had approved a whopping Rs 399 crore ‘comprehensive flood management program”.
The program among other things included dredging of river Jhelum at various key locations to increase its volumetric retention capacity and ensuring graded river bed right till Wullar.
In 2016 when the project was taken up, the carrying capacity of the river was between 28,000 to 30,000 cusecs. The dredging of seven lakh cubic meters in Srinagar could increase it up to 45,000 cusecs.
Ajaz Rasool a hydraulic expert said the company had carried out the dredging “unscientifically.”
“The object of contract has thus not fructified. Srinagar is still at the risk of floods as it was before the initiation of dredging in 2015.
Assistant executive engineer Sonwar division refused to comment on the dredging carried out in the area falling in his domain. “Talk to nodal officer of the project,” he said. However, nodal officer Muhammad Aslam could not be contacted.
The executing company was required to dredge the river from Panthachowk to Panzinara, a distance of approximately 24.5 kilometers.
Srinagar city bore the brunt of 2014 floods as habitations on both sides of Jhelum remained submerged for several weeks.
On September 7, 2014, the water level in Jhelum broke all records— crossing 33-feet at Sangam at Islamabad (Anantnag) in south Kashmir and 23-feet at Ram Munshi Bagh here.

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