The much-awaited artificial lake on the Tawi River still see to be a distant dream as the government has set another two years deadline, for completion its work.
However, the tourism minister few days ago, admitted that the completion of work on Artificial lake is progressing and will be completed within next two years. As per sources, the project titled “Design and Construction of Auto Mechanically Operated Gated Barrage across the River Tawi” under which ‘Creation of Artificial Lake’ is one of the components was sanctioned at a cost of Rs 70 crore several years back. However, an amount of Rs 57.35 crore has been spent till March 31, 2016 on the project.
Sources said that the project has been delayed due to non-availability of Central Funding under 13th Finance Commission Award and monsoon floods in 2013 and 2014, and adding that Union Ministry of Water Resources had recommended the case to Department of Expenditure of Union Finance Ministry for release of Rs 6.25 crore worth 3rd installment under the 13th Finance Commission Award. However, no funds were released by the Ministry, sources added.
Initially, the time of completion for the project was two years but now the date of completion has been proposed/ revised to March 31, 2017. “It is a matter of serious concern that despite being aware of the fact that there is no timely release of 3rd installment from the Union Finance Ministry, the State Government didn’t find it imperative to make arrangement of funds from its own resources so as to ensure that pending work is geared up on the Artificial Lake project”, official sources rued.
Though the Irrigation and Flood Control Department may meet the target of creating mechanically operated gated barrage across the River Tawi that too if funds are released, there is absolutely no focus on second component-“Creation of Artificial Lake” as even Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for diversion of nullahs have not been prepared till date.
This lake project was first approved by the then Governor of J&K, Jagmohan, in 1986 but the work could not start. Then the construction of the artificial lake started in 2010 during the coalition government headed by the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
After several technical and legal tangles, the design by Indian Institute of Technology, New Delhi, was approved by the Central Water Commission. Its work has been stopped since September 2014 floods and a few pillars have been left incomplete. The Department of Irrigation and Flood Control (J&K) was monitoring the entire work on the project that includes the construction of auto-mechanically operated gated-barrage that is 370m long and 4m high.