SRINAGAR: The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) has uncovered a significant case of wasteful expenditure due to inadequate project planning and failure to utilise assets in the water transport initiative on the Jhelum River in Srinagar.
According to the CAG’s report, a total investment of Rs six crore has been rendered idle.
The report, presented to the Parliament on August 09, points out that the Jammu & Kashmir government proceeded with the project despite prior studies indicating that cruise vessels would be unable to pass under most of Srinagar city’s bridges.
The report highlights, “Initial assessments conducted by M/s Hyderabad Boat Builders indicated that the cruise vessels could not navigate under the majority of bridges within Srinagar city, rendering the project economically un-feasible. Despite this glaring concern, the implementing agency forged ahead with project execution.”
As outlined in the report obtained, the Jammu & Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation acquired two cruise boats worth Rs 1.40 crore in April 2017. Regrettably, these boats have remained stationary on the Jhelum River in Srinagar due to the absence of floating jetties required for their utilisation.
Furthermore, the CAG’s findings reveal that even though the entire project has been completed, the cruise boats have not been put into operation.
The report elucidates, “Since the responsibility for installing and commissioning jetties was only assigned to the Irrigation & Flood Control Department in April 2021, the cruise boats remained dormant for over five years. The total expenditure on the project has now reached Rs 6 crore. However, the cruise vessels are still non-operational, resulting in the entire investment of Rs 6 crore being futile.”
In response to the CAG’s observations, the J&K Government stated in February 2022 that efforts were being made to make the boats operational through Srinagar Smart City Limited.
Nonetheless, the report casts doubt on this response, underscoring that “these boats remained stationary on the Jhelum River for more than five years, and to date, the cruise boats have not been put into operation. The absence of functionality raises concerns about asset deterioration.” (KNO)