KL NEWS NETWORK
Chairing her first major review meeting after assuming charge of the Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti Monday hinted at reorienting the Planning & Development Department so that it is able to professionally handle preparation of quality DPRs (Detailed Project Reports), absence of which she said was real bane of project delays.
She vouched for a mechanism where ‘empanelled consultants’ remove technical bottlenecks and fast-track DPR preparation which will enable the executing agencies to deliver projects on time. “If fund crunch was the problem in the past, nowadays it is the struggle over efficiently executing development projects and achieving desired results that hold us back,” she stated.
The Chief Minister made these observations in a high-level meeting called to assess the progress achieved on the commitments made by late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on several development projects when he was the Chief Minister of the state.
Besides the Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh, the meeting was also attended by Minister for Public Works & Parliamentary Affairs, A. R. Veeri, Minister for Finance, Culture, Labour & Employment, Dr. Haseeb A. Drabu, Minister for H&ME, Bali Baghat, Minister for Education, Naeem Akhtar, Minister of State for Haj & Auqaf (IC), PHE, I&FC and I&C, Syed Farooq Ahmad Andrabi and Minister of State, Finance & Planning, IT, Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs, CA&PD, Tribal Affairs, Relief & Rehabilitation and Labour & Employment, Ajay Nanda.
The Chief Minister, who also holds the charge of the Planning & Development Department, reviewed R&B, PHE, I&FC, PDD, I&C, Tourism, Health, Education and the I&C Departments.
The meeting began with the Chief Minister asking the officers to show no laxity in completion of projects where time impacts are inevitable, because of the uniqueness of each project. She said the real efficiency lies in delivering public infrastructure within the stipulated timelines. “The officers are custodians of development and therein lay the huge expectations of the people on the development front,” the Chief Minister said while exuding confidence that the officers will put their best foot forward.
In the all-important R&B sector, Commissioner/Secretary, Rohit Kansal, briefed Mehbooba Mufti about the present status of 12 major commitments of the Chief Minister which include construction of Lakhanpur-Thein Road up to Ranjit Sagar Dam, emergency repairs of Batote-Kishtwar Road, Circular Roads in Pulwama and Anantnag districts, maintenance of Mughal Road, macadamization of cities and towns, construction of Pulwama-Lassipora Road and completion of work on Pantha Chowk-Zewan Crossing.
It was given out that the work on the first three kilometres out of the 19-km-long Lakhanpur-Thein Road up to Ranjit Sagar Dam, in Basohli, has been started under CRF and the project will be completed within the next three years. Efforts are also on to get the road declared as National Highway.
The Chief Minister was informed that the macadamization of Mehndikadal-Ashajipora Circular Road will be taken up shortly for which Rs.5.00 crore have been released to the R&B Department so far. For macadamization of roads in cities and towns, funds will be sought under TAMIER.
It was brought into the notice of the Chief Minister that all structures coming under realignment of Pantha Chowk–Zewan Crossing have been removed and work on the widened portion is under progress.
The Chief Minister stressed upon completion of all ongoing projects within the set timelines.
Kansal also updated the Chief Minister on the progress achieved on the 42 projects shortlisted in PHE, I&FC Departments. The Chief Minister had on Saturday reviewed in detail the present status of dredging works on river Jhelum for which a Kolkata-based firm has been allotted the contract.
Some of the works presently under execution include beautification of Jhelum embankments in Srinagar, Bijbehara and Sopore, development of Dara Shikov Garden near Bijbehera, Reclamation of Aglar Mandi in Shopian and filtered drinking water to migrant colony at Vessu, Kulgam.
While taking review of the works in the Power Development Department, the Chief Minister issued directions for ensuring regular electricity supply in the winter capital during upcoming summer season.
Principal Secretary Power, Dheeraj Gupta, brought into the notice of the Chief Minister the measures taken for removal of bottlenecks in procurement of essential items as per standardized procurement procedure. He said with Central Government approving a list of vendors, the Power Department will now be able to maintain an inventory of key material supplies.
“As the Centre has also effected changes in specification of transformers, the new transformers will prove much cheaper and energy efficient in the long run,” he said, while assuring the Chief Minister of switching over to new specifications within the next six months.
The Power Secretary informed the meeting that power supply to Jama Masjid Srinagar will be augmented by installation of 250 KV DG sets and the work will be completed within the next two months at a cost of Rs.1.00 crore.
To ensure uninterrupted power supply to the picturesque Pahalgam resort, 11 KV and 33 KV lines are being laid which will be completed by the end of July at a cost of Rs.3.00 crore. He said tenders worth Rs.129.20 crore have also been floated for underground cabling at four tourist destinations including Pahalgam, Gulmarg, Sonamarg and Patnitop.
The department has also started the process for creation of transformer bank at Rajouri and Poonch districts for which Rs.1.00 crore have been released. The other works which are presently under execution include establishment of receiving station at Sultanpora, Shranz in Baramulla, dedicated power supply to IT Park at Rangreth, BGSBU in Rajouri, Ghani Stadium in Srinagar and Civil Hospital at Pahalgam.
On the issue of uninterrupted power supply to Uri, Mehbooba Mufti was informed by the Power Secretary that once the 50 MVA Transformer is installed in the grid station by October this year, the power supply to the border town will considerably improve.
The Chief Minister took a detailed review on the forward movement achieved on cross-LoC Trade and Travel at two crossing points of Salamabad in Baramulla and Chakan da Bagh in Poonch, which she said were described by late Mufti Saab as the ‘show-window’ for travellers from across the LoC.
Commissioner/Secretary, I&C, Shailendra Kumar, highlighted the progress achieved in broadening the scope of cross-LoC trade. He said a fresh list of additional items to be included in the already approved list of 21 items has been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs which will be taken up for approval in the next meeting of the Joint Working Group between India and Pakistan.
On the smooth navigation from present barter system of trade to banking system for cross-LoC trade, Kumar said RBI has agreed to discuss the issue with Pakistan in the meeting of the joint working group. He said for smooth movement of trucks in and out of the terminals at Chakan da Bagh and Salamabad, tenders have been floated for procurement of full body scanners and the same shall be installed over the next 18 months.
On being asked about the new features in the recently-announced State Industrial Policy, the Chief Minister was apprised that issues related to change of constitution, maintenance of industrial estates, e-trade in famed Handicraft products, self-attestation and delegation of financial powers to subordinate officers have been taken care of in a pragmatic way. He said premium for land in industrial estates has been enhanced for the first time since 2004-05, which will enable SIDCO and SICOP to take care of common facilities like roads, effluent treatment plants, and other support required within the estates from time-to-time.
A detailed presentation was also made about the progress achieved in construction of convention facility and establishment of mega leather cluster at IE Lassipora and facelifting of Kashmir Haat at Srinagar.
In the Tourism sector, the Chief Minister obtained first-hand appraisal on developing Mantalai, in Udhampur district, as an International Yoga Centre and bringing several areas like Abdullian and Chamlyal within the ambit of border tourism, on pattern of Suchetgarh. She also stressed upon outsourcing high-end assets like Pahalgam Club, which will generate revenue that can be ploughed back in developing the highly-remunerative travel industry in the state.
On being enquired about the present status of the prestigious Jammu Ropeway Project, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Sandeep Nayak, informed the Chief Minister that on the instructions of late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, the hybrid system has been ordered to be replaced by imported system which matches international benchmarks. Fresh tenders have been floated and the work on the project will commence thereafter, he added.
On laying of new ropeways at tourist and pilgrim destinations like Mantalai and Shiv Khori the Chief Minister was informed that these are currently under the active consideration of the department and subject to clearance from Forest Advisory Board.
In order to position Gulmarg as valley’s premier travel destination, the Tourism Secretary said the heritage masterpiece Maharaja Palace, helipad, waiting terminal in Gandola premises and a new restaurant are ready for inauguration. A revised plan of Rs. 198.65 crore for up-gradation of roads leading to tourist destinations has also been formulated, the meeting was told.
The other works presently being executed include construction of an ice-skating rink at Pahalgam, framing of DPR for laying of golf course at Sonamarg, repair and renovation of Abhinav Theatre and Tagore Hall, construction of Bait ul Zareen at Shahdara Sharief, Rajouri, installation of STP and incinerators at Gulmarg for solid waste management and development of Ranjit Sagar Dam as a tourist destination.
While reviewing the performance of the Education sector, the Chief Minister issued instructions for removing impediments in making IIT Jammu functional as early as possible. She was informed that land for permanent IIT campus has been identified at Jagti and Rs.1.58 crore have been released to make transit campus functional. Similarly, for IIM Jammu, three sites have been proposed and a final decision will be taken by Site Selection Committee of Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD). Since forest land is involved for setting up the campuses, concurrence of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is a prerequisite, the Chief Minister was informed.
Mehbooba Mufti was also briefed about the new initiatives taken to reform both the school and the higher education sectors. Specific mention was made of the Model School Scheme started by late Chief Minister, creation of Teachers’ Welfare Fund and introduction of vocational courses at college and school levels in four identified trades including IT, tourism and handicraft sectors.
Commissioner/Secretary School Education informed the Chief Minister that 144 schools have been identified in the state for upgradation as Model Schools where students will be taught with the help of modern e-learning tools.
In the health sector, Secretary H&ME, M. K. Bhandari briefed the Chief Minister about the present status of setting up new medical colleges at Anantnag, Baramulla, Rajouri, Kathua and Doda. She was also informed about establishing new nursing colleges in existing old hospital buildings in 10 districts at a cost of Rs.2.5 crore each. These districts include Baramulla, Sopore, Anantnag, Srinagar and Budgam in Kashmir valley and Kathua, Udhampur, Poonch, Basohli and Jammu in Jammu division.
For Model Health Centres and SDH Basohli and Dooru, Mehbooba Mufti directed the Health Secretary to provide manpower and equipment so that patients are provided best possible treatment.
While reviewing H&UD sector, the Chief Minister directed the department to fast-track work on Shopping Complexes at Chare-e-Sharief, Anantnag, multi-tier parking at Panjtirthi and community halls at Bijbehara.
Earlier, Financial Commissioner, Planning & Development, B. B. Vyas informed the Chief Minister about cataloguing the commitments of the Chief Minister on the basis of availability of funds and removal of bottlenecks. He also gave a detailed presentation on the status of several commitments of the Chief Minister which fall within the purview of district sector.