Even when the much hyped work on ambitious Jammu Ropeway Project is ‘hanging in balance’, the concerned authorities are busy passing bucks, claiming that they are either not directly associated with the project or are not sure about the status of the work.
According to sources in the department, the project which was virtually started in 1995 is still facing official apathy and is lingering.
Sources said that the project, which is being executed at the cost of Rs. 66 Crores, was conceived about two decades ago. However the construction on the ground was started only last year, several months after laying of foundation stone in Feb 2014 by the then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.
If sources are to be believed then the Jammu Ropeway Project, that will connect Mubarak Mandi and Bahu (Shahbad)-Mohmaya areas of the city, is likely to be commissioned by the year 2017.
Sources said that the blue print for this project was first prepared in 1995 and initially the cable car was to take off from Mubarak Mandi, but after the declaration of Mubarak Mandi and Bahu Fort as heritage sites, the project had was to be relocated.
“The project was started with an estimated cost of Rs 66 cr but due to delay in its completion the escalation cost has increased to several crores,” said sources, adding, “The authorities as well as executing agency is reluctant in completing the project because escalation in project cost also brings bounty for the officers at the helm of affairs.”
Meanwhile, unaware about the status of the project, the in line departments directly and indirectly associated with the project apparently passed buck, maintaining that they are either not concerned with the project or are unaware.
Talking to Newspoint Director Tourism, Sushma Chahuan said, “We are not concerned with this project. Talk to Managing Director, Cable Car Corporation in this regard, as he is looking after this project.”
However, Managing Director (MD) Cable Car Corporation Shamim Ahmed Wani initially expressed his ignorance over the matter and said he is not sure about the status, especially escalated cost and deadline of the project.
“I am not sure about the estimated cost of the project after escalation, however, it was earmarked to around Rs 62 cr in 2014,” he said and added he is not sure about the deadline of the project.
When asked about reports on estimated cost of Rs 66 crore, Wani said that he has assumed the charge month back, therefore what he shared is documental. “Previous MD-Nazir Ahmad would have told media about Rs 66 crore, but I am talking as per documents,” he said.
He further added that all the basic formalities required for starting the work had been completed and work is in 3rd stage on Shahbad Bagh-e-Bahu, which was started on July 17, 2016 and will be ready within 3 to four days.
“After the work on this stage gets completed, we will proceed to stage 2nd on Mahamaya and stage one on Peerkho,” he said and added the project will be executed in two sections. Section-I from Mubarak Mandi to Mahamaya (1117 meters length) will be a monocable detachable system and Section-II from Mubarak Mandi to Bahu Fort near Shahabad (453 meters length) will be a monocable pulsated system.
Managing Director (MD) said, “The construction work is being closely monitored as we have to submit monthly status to Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Tourism Department, MoS and Chief Minister.”
He said work on the upper terminal of the project near Bahu Fort is near completion, while the work on the middle terminal has been taken up. He however said that the land acquisition, land clearance and utility shifting works are pending at the lower terminal of the project near Peer Kho.
The state government has proposed a cable car project which is aimed to connect the heritage sites like Baghe-e-Bahi and Mubarak Mandi complex besides others across the city of temples. Gondola, a cable car project will connect Mubarak Mandi, Mahamaya Termple, Bagh-e-Bahu, Bawe Wali Mata Temple, Peerkho temple which will attract the visiting Vaishno Devi pilgrims.
When tried to contact Divisional Commissioner Jammu, Pawan Kotwal he was unavailable.
Pertinently, on its completion, the ropeway would have 37 cabin lines from historic Mubarak Mandi Royal palace to Mahamaya Park and onward to Shahbad Bagh-e-Bahu.