Rashid Paul

FLOOD THREAT: Only 13% of funds under PMDP for flood control project of Jhelum released in eight years

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Srinagar: The Comprehensive Flood Control Project (CFCP) for river Jhelum is facing some trouble as a mere 13 percent of the Rs 2023 crores plan under Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for the Project has been released and expended over the past eight years and thus a few hour rain raises a flood alert level in the Valley.

Official sources say central assistance of Rs 5858.00 cr had actually been announced under the PMDP in 2015 for crisis management in Kashmir. This included undertaking CFCP for River Jhelum and its tributaries. The project specified dredging and de-silting of the river besides assistance for the permanent restoration of damaged public infrastructure assets. It also envisaged assistance under World Bank for Jhelum Flood Recovery Project and strengthening the Disaster Management Framework in the then State, including setting up of Emergency operation centers and allied infrastructure.

The central Ministry of Water Resources was to provide 1458 Rs for Comprehensive Flood Management of River Jhelum and its tributaries with Rs 1178 crores to be spent in phase I. However, the plan was changed subsequently and Rs 399 crores were set to be expended as a short-term measure in phase I with Jammu and Kashmir stipulated to bear a share of 30 percent of the cost of the project.

Likewise, the Ministry of Finance was to provide a 90% grant portion of World Bank assistance under Jhelum Flood Reconstruction Project worth around Rs 600 to 700 crores.

Funds worth Rs 280 crore (13.84 %) of the package for flood mitigation under PMDP have been released by the government of India so far, say the sources.

The funds have been utilized completely said Naresh Kumar, Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control Department, Kashmir. He said a fair amount of the money under the PMDP crisis management has gone into disaster management and relief and rehabilitation.

Kumar said that Rs 399 crores have been spent on executing works under the short-term plan and the money has been spent on land compensation for expanding waterways.

He said the main area of thrust was on dredging the river and its flood spill channel, besides some multi-span bridges too have been constructed under phase I.

The chief engineer claimed that the discharge carrying capacity of river Jhelum has increased from 31,800 cusecs pre-2014 to 41,000 cusecs at reference point Sangam. Similarly, the discharge carrying capacity of FSC at the off-take of Padshahi Bagh has also increased from 4000 cusecs to 8700 cusecs.

But environmental experts and some concerned citizens say that the carrying capacity of the river has not expanded to a level of reassurance. A few hours of rains raise the water level to the danger mark, said Manzoor Ahmad Tak, a former Indian Forest Service officer, and an environmentalist.

Tak said the mechanical dredging of Jhelum handed out to a company post-floods, has damaged the river banks and its basin. It was unscientific and failed to increase the carrying capacity of the river, he said.

Similar views were expressed by Aijaz Rasool, an engineer with the Environment Policy Group of Kashmir. He said, “The minor works conducted under phase I including the unfavorable technical dredging has not averted the flood threat. The retention capacity of the flood spill channel is also not visible. Little money has been granted for flood threat mitigation and the pace of work under CFCP is not encouraging”.

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