Militant threat keeping workers, contractors away
ATTACK ON WULAR CONSERVATION PROJECT
Adipora (Sopore), Sep 2: Militant threat is keeping the workers and contractors away from the site of Wular conservation project site at Navtour in Adipora area of this north Kashmir town.
Suspected militants had attacked the project on August 27. Muhammad Shafi while narrating the story said that three to seven heavily armed men appeared at the project site during the intervening night of August 27 and 28, lobbed a grenade at the construction site and beat-up the engineers and workers present there. “They asked us to leave the site and windup machinery after seeking identity cards from us,” Shafi said.
“A few persons damaged the pillars of the slide gates established for the flood protection of the catchments area by forcing the workers to do so with the construction machinery present there,” he said.
Shafi said the suspected militants threatened them of dire consequences if they resumed work on the project.
Pertinently Minister of Irrigation and Flood Control, Taj Mohiuddin after the incident had said that militants attacked the flood protection work, which they may have mistaken as Wular Barrage project.
He termed the incident a handiwork of militants, who had attacked the Wular Barrage or Tulbul Navigation-an unresolved issue between New Delhi and Islamabad, in early 90s.
After the attack, the government has beefed up the security around the area. Army and Naval commandos have been deployed to secure the strategic project.
The work on the project remained suspended for the sixth consecutive on Sunday as most of the workers and contractors have fled from the area. Despite government assuring the contractors that they would be provided security round the clock they are indecisive about whether to resume work or not. “We have no faith in government assurances. Before the attack we were assured protection and security, still militants attacked our office,” said one of the workers.
Talking to Greater Kashmir District Development Commissioner Baramulla Ghulam Ahmed Khawaja said, “Work will be resumed on the project by Wednesday.”
“We are busy in repairing the approach road connecting the project site so that the forces can reach there easily,” he said. “I am visiting the area personally along with concerned officers. I will assure the workers and contractors that all the security arrangements have been put in place and they can resume the work without any fear. ”
Pertinently, attack was carried out at the construction site in Aadipora village in Wular area of Sopore Township, where government is establishing flood protection slide gates.
The construction of 439-feet long and 40-feet wide barrage with a navigation lock at Wular Lake near village Ningli in Sopore is being strongly opposed by Islamabad. India had started work on this project in 1984 with the objective to increase the water level in the barrage. However, the work was stopped in 1987 following Pakistan’s objections claiming it violates the Indus Water Treaty signed on September 19, 1960.
The Wular Conservation project is also aimed at strengthening of the banks near the river Jhelum so that water level is maintained during the winter when the discharge for the downstream 1065 MWs power projects like Uri Civil-I, Uri Civil –II (under construction) and Lower Jehlum is very low affecting their power generation. With the completion of this prestigious project and the stabilization of the water level, the State Government may earn Rs 60 crore extra annually as water usage charge from the NHPC.
Wular lake is considered as Asia's largest fresh water lake. The lake has been heavily encroached upon and as per the official data it has been reduced to just 125 sq km from 217 sq km since 1911. Government had sanctioned Rs 398 crores for Wular conservation project, meant for restoring the pristine glory of the lake at a mega scale.
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 2 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 3 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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