Abondoning Artificial Lake Project after spending 58.18 crores speaks volumes of utilization of Taxpayer’s money

golden yug
[ October 04, 2017 ] More than seven years ago, the people of Jammu were promised a surprise gift. It was the artificial lake made in the bed of Tawi River somewhere near Gujjar Nagar. It was in this background that the idea of creating an artificial lake on Tawi was thrown up and pursued. The Government issued instructions to concerned agencies and the survey etc. was carried out after due codal formalities were ensured. Accordingly work was allotted to M/s GVR Infra Project Limited, Plot-231, Swami Ayyapa Society, Madhopur, Hyderabad vide allotment letter order No. IFCJ/W/5467-72 Dated 4-8-2010 by Chief Engineer I&FC Jammu at the cost of Rs 69.70 crores. However quoted rate/amount was Rs 70.50 crores which was negotiated and ultimately it was brought down to Rs 69.70 crores. Time of completion being essence of contract , the contractor is bound to complete the allotted work within stipulated completion time of twenty four months including rainy days, failing which penality to the extent of 10% of total cost as determined by executive Engineer concerned can be imposed up to the contractor/Firm by the next higher authority of Irrigatiuon Department. Work was undertaken after the Cabinet decision No. 145/12/2010 dated 27-7-2010 conveyed by the secretary to Cabinet (Chief Secretary) vide administrative approval Govt Order No. 282-PW (Hyd) of 2010 dated 28-7-2010.The detail of funding pattern for the construction of above said project was from AIBP-25 Crores (90:10) i.e 22.50 crores, State share-20 crores (20:2.50) i.e 22.50 crores, 13th Finance Commission-25 crores making aggregated total as Rs 70 crores.It will be reminded that Pakistan raised objections and claimed that creating an artificial lake on Tawi would contravene the Indus Water Treaty. Pakistan made an issue out of it despite clear clauses of the IWT. Indian authorities made it sufficiently clear that there was absolutely no violation of any agreement but Pakistan knocked at the door of the World Bank and lodged a complaint. Their team came and was given all possible facility to conduct examination. The team still persisted with the complaint and finally the World Bank authorities, who are governing the IWT, dismissed the complaint of Pakistan. India was given the green signal to go ahead with the project of building the artificial lake.A sum of 70 crore rupees was sanctioned by the Central Government/state Govt for the artificial lake in Jammu. The blue print was very comprehensive and technically well planned. In fact apart from Tawi, the Nikki Tawi was also to be harnessed for the lake. But the ticklish issue was that of the nearly a dozen nullahs those bring dirty and filthy garbage to the Tawi and pollute the water. A lake should have clean and pure water so that people can, out of recreational exercises, swim or boat in the lake. Therefore the first important stage was to divert the dirty nullahs and let the water of Tawi remain pure. Then numerous structures like gates and dams and embankment etc. had to be built to make the project viable. There is civil as well as mechanical engineering involved in the project.We know that there is hardly any project that is completed within the stipulated date. Delaying projects creates financial complications. This is also true in the case of artificial lake. A project for the construction of an artificial lake over Tawi River was first conceived during Ghulam Nabi Azad’s rule between 2006-08 and it was supposed to cover the area falling between Bahu Fort upto Sidhra Bridge. However, work on the project started in 2010 and its area got shifted between Bhagwati Nagar to Gujjar Nagar Bridge. The delay in completion of the project also led to an increase in its estimated cost from Rs 23 crore to Rs 70 crore.Artificial Lake in Jammu is an integrated project being executed by the Irrigation & Flood Control Department, Housing and Urban Development Department and the Tourism Department.Jammu Artificial Lake is a multi-phase project involving several departments and the executing agencies.In the Phase-I, work on Design and Construction of barrages across river Tawi near Belicharana, Jammu, which is part of Artificial Lake was taken up for execution by the Irrigation & Flood Control Department at an estimated cost of Rs 69.70 crore, against which Rs 57.35 crore stand released/utilized by ending March 2016. 31 barrages are to be constructed by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department on river Tawi near Belicharana as part of the Artificial Lake project which by March 2017 has become 58.18 crores. Out of these 20 barrages are to be constructed on Nikki Tawi and 11 barrages on Baddi Tawi. “While 11 barrages on Baddi Tawi stand fully completed and gated, the gates for 20 barrages constructed on Nikki Tawi are ready. This amounts to 80% physical and financial progress of the works on the project which is to be executed by the Irrigation and Flood Control Department.In the Phase-II of the Artificial Lake Project, the beautification and embankment works are to be taken up under Tawi River Front Development Project for which MoU has already been signed by Jammu Development Authority (JDA) with the Sabarmati River Front Development Corporation (SRFDC) and a Detailed Project Report (DPR) has been prepared in this regard on the direction of Dy CM Dr Nirmal Singh few months back. It also involves diversion of around 14 sewage channels presently draining directly into River Tawi. “These sewage channels are to be diverted to ensure pollution free water flows into the Artificial Lake.It has been proved yet again why general public never takes the constitution of enquiry committees as at the first place findings take time and moreover delay in it is deliberately done to shield accused officials as to save such persons becomes important for the department lest the nexus from top to bottom should expose everyone involved in wrong doings. One such example is despite the constitution of enquiry committee to assess the extensive damages to the barrage structure (construction of auto mechanically operated gated barrage pillars and beside damage to permanent protection wall to island U/S of the barrage damages to the barrage structure and allied works during heavy rains and flash floods in River Tawi in 7th August 2016, no one has been punished so far in this regard. Making Firm M/s GVR Infra Project Limited vide No. IFCJ/W/5467-72 DATED 04-08-2010 at Rs 69.70 crores fully responsible for safety and stability of the structure against all odds till it finally hands over to the department is fine but what about the contract for permanent protection to island u/s of barrage abutment by way of constructing concrete walling along right bank of Nikki Tawi in favour of Kewal Krishan at Rs 30633554 against advertised amount of Rs 30661000 and which washed away why no questions asked to him over loss to exchequer due to use of substandard materials in construction and why no responsibility was fixed so far . It deserves mentioning here that Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood control, Sham Lal Choudhary after visiting the Niki Tawi, Jammu near 4th bridge to assess the extensive damages to the barrage structure ( construction of auto mechanically operated gated barrage pillars and beside damage to permanent protection wall to island U/S of the barrage damages to the barrage structure and allied works during heavy rains and flash floods in River Tawi in 7th August 2016 besides one pillar of ambititious project was also damaged and actually bend towards ground .It deserves mentioning here that Pillar No 17 was also damaged in Sep 2014.The concerned Minister during his on spot visit found one pillar of auto mechanically operated gated barrage totally damaged in the flood.It deserves mentioning here that Pillar No 17 was also damaged in Sep 2014. There was also damage to permanent protection to island U/S barrage abutment by way of constructing walling along right bank of Nikki Tawi Jammu which was allotted to Kewal Krishan* A* Class contractor from Shakti Nagar Jammu at the cost of Rs 30633554 vide IFCJ/W/ 11250-53 Dated 09-09-2015 to be completed in 90 days including bad weather days and in case project is delayed the contractor will have to pay 0.05% ( 5% of total cost) to be paid everyday to the irrigation authority . However other portion of damaged structure part of the permanent protection to island U/S barrage abutment by way of constructing walling along right bank of Nikki Tawi Jammu where the protection wall collapsed in three heavy pieces from the base of protection wall. The hard earned public money got washed away with the collapse of protection wall. The constituted committee submitted the report to Chief Engineer on 22-08-2016 and thereafter the same was sent by Chief Engineer to the secretary to Govt, PHE, Irrigation and flood control Srinagar on 31-08-2016. In a clear cut example of passing the buck the enquiry committee report has come out with some bizarre explanation saying that some expert committee be constituted by the Govt to find out the exact cause of damage to structure having expertise in design and execution of the similar hydraulic structure. Moreover it has recommended some unusual parameters including design factors and design- calculations used to fix various components, Co-relation between construction drawing and design calculations. It seems the enquiry report to fix the responsibility was mere eyewash as the recommendation made now should have been made prior to 2nd time damage to structure. The report passing the buck has not fixed responsibility on any one concerned neither the executive agency nor the departmental officials under whose supervision the construction work was going on and ultimately damaged in flood. But the public money which washed away with the collapse of structure has not marked as whose carelessness and ignorance did so. It seems that no enquiry has been done and the report has been compiled in close door room as no explanation letter has been sought from EE Anil Sharma thereby making an attempt to shield the departmental officials. As so far the exact reasons for damage to structure has not been notified and no responsibility has been fixed on any one attached with the project. Attached executive engineer, Anil Sharma in a letter to head of the enquiry committee did not give the reason for cause of damage to structure and in fact recommended again providing a sum of Rs 385.40 lacs for restoration work citing the reasons that for the safety of existing barrage and remaining protection wall on the right bank of Nikki tawi, otherwise there is every apprehension of further damages during coming rains/ flash floods of even minor/ medium magnitude in addition to already sanctioned cost of the project 69.70 crores and Rs 30633554 . The same has been recommended by enquiry committee to Govt for the consideration of the same. It is therefore painful on part of concerned authorities who deliberately failed to fix responsibilities of the damage occurred to structure and the public money lost. Not fixing the responsibility and passing the buck confirms something fishy in the deals and also in enquiry committee report. There is no mention that whether the sample of damaged structure was sent to lab to testify the proper ratio in the construction as per the norms of building and construction. It has also come to fore that abonding the project might be an attempt to shield the culprits otherwise spending such a huge amount in a state like J&K whose economy is badly battling to meet the expenses would have thought hundred times before taking such a decision despite the fact that the emotions of Jammuites were deeply and passionately attached with the abandoned artificial lake project.