The Inland Water Transport System (IWTS) project that has been gathering dust within the dirty, blackened by repeated use and awful smelling file cabinets of various offices in Kashmir for the last eight years has been shelved without giving any reasons. It was feasible but in Kashmir strange things happen.
IWTS plans on utilising the Jhelum river, that runs through the Srinagar City, to meet the growing traffic demands of the population. In the days of yore, water was one of the primary ways of transportation within the valley. Water transport from Baramullah to Srinagar is still recalled by people.
At the end of this post appears a news-item from Greater Kashmir. Greater Kashmir has been time and again highlighting this project, but the bosses, that are, still are uninterested. Waiting for kickbacks, I would presume.
The news-item mentions that Lakes and Waterways (LWDA) should have been entrusted the project (LWDA still doesn't know about the existence of the project, though), but by gauging the failure of LWDA in even preventing further deterioration of the Dal Lake (for which it was created), it would be a foolish step to entrust such a project to them. An alternative agency could be created, recruiting young Kashmiris with expertise in management, technology and operations. This would not only create a red-tapism free organisation but also would have been a novel way for the young Kashmiri men and women to showcase their talent and drive. But, this step will of course be unacceptable to the officialdom.
Greater Kashmir , 3rd Feb, 2006
Inland Water Transport on Jhelum still on papers-I
Project shelved as officials couldn’t understand its technicalities
ARIF SHAFI WANI
Srinagar, Feb 2: An ambitious project to develop an Inland Water Transport (IWT) system on river Jhelum—lifeline of Srinagar city—is still to see the light of the day despite eight years of its formulation.
To lessen traffic problems in the summer capital and prevent pollution in the Jhelum, Government made a proposal in 1996 to launch public transport system on the 27-km river stretch from Pampore to Chattabal.
It would have incurred Rs 9 crore in the first phase—total cost of the project, including its expansion till 2017 was estimated at Rs 40 crore.
Government through Housing and Urban Development employed the services of RITES, a Central Government enterprise, to make a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for development of the IWT system on the Jhelum.
The RITES had carried feasibility study of the project and proposed that the project “in its totality be executed in two years, and the implementation schedule worked out accordingly.” Subsequently, the job was officially entrusted to RITES on July 25, 1997.
The company prepared a DPR about the traffic estimation and forecast, detailed design of waterway, passenger vessel and terminals on the projected volume, fixed competitive tariff for IWT and proposed the implementation of the IWT system with best economic and financial result.
“The Jhelum river…can be used as a public transport system very advantageously linking the total stretch systematically and synergistically. The major consideration for such a linkage is the navigation on the river,” reads the RITES report, a copy of which is with Greater Kashmir.
Besides preparing tender documents for vessels, terminals and dredging, RITES also proposed building of terminals at Pampore, Pantha Chowk, Batwara, Zero Brigde, Badshah Chowk, Habba Kadal, Fateh Kadal, Zaina Kadal, Ali Kadal, Nawa Kadal, Safa Kadal and Chattabal.
The RITES also proposed the design of 21 vessels after “considering the physical constraints in the waterway like bridges, the traffic demand during peak hours and also keeping in view the local ethos and environment.
“An organization set up has been worked out on tentative basis. This organization named as ‘Waterways Organization’ under Lakes and Waterway Development Authority, Srinagar will handle all maters relating to operation and maintenance of navigational waterway and will have jurisdiction and control over all government, public and private vessel operators,” the report says.
The important study Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) which is mandatory for commencement of any project was also carried out to ascertain the impact of development of the waterway on the eco-system. And it gave the green signal for implementation of the project.
Sadly, eight years down the line, the files gather dust in different government departments. Official Sources said the government had to bear a burden of Rs 15 lakhs which was given to the agency for preparing report of the project.
The project, the sources said, was shelved as the “ non-technical persons who were given the responsibility of executing the project couldn’t understand its technicalities.”
Actually the project was conceived during the tenure of Muhammad Shafi Pandit as the Divisional Commissioner of Kashmir in 1995-96. “National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development granted special sanction of Rs 9 crore for the project and released the first installment of Rs 90 lakhs. I was transferred during the period and couldn’t oversee the execution of the project,” Pandit told Greater Kashmir.
Superintending Engineer Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA), Aijaz Rasool said: “Though I’ve heard about the project but LAWDA hasn’t officially received the directions to implement it.”
Vice-chairperson SDA Naseema Lankar admitted that the project has been shelved. “Yes, the work on the project has been delayed,” she said, without giving any reasons.