Centre sits over flood relief project for Kashmir

Despite the threat of floods looming large over Kashmir, the government at the Centre is sitting over a  clearance to Rs 401 crore flood management project for the state.

The Rs 401-crore project includes dredging of river Jhelum to increase its carrying capacity and land acquisition to widen the river’s flood spill channel. Sources told Deccan Herald that though the project was approved by Central Water Commission (CWC), it is pending clearance from the Union Water Resource Ministry’s Technical Approval Committee. “The issue was taken up by the State authorities with Secretary Department of Expenditures in the Union Finance Ministry during his visit to Kashmir last month. Though that time the Central government official made a commitment to release the funds for the project, the promise remains unfulfilled ,” they said.

The Union Secretary had chaired a high level meeting here to assess developmental needs of J&K in the wake of devastating deluge that hit Kashmir in September last.

A senior official of the state Flood Control Department said the Union Water Resource Ministry has cleared the project. However, the state would get the funds after the project is cleared by the newly set up NITI Aayog. We are hopeful of receiving funding in the coming few months,” he said.

However, the official revealed that even Rs 401 crores project was not adequate to avert future flood threats. “The massive encroachment of water bodies including Jhelum, conversion of marshy land into residential colonies has led to decrease in water holding capacity and that is the reason for frequent flood threats ,” he said. He added that the state government would require framing a long term flood management policy to make Kashmir safe for times to come.

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