GK Editorial|The Flood Action Plan!

According to news reports the state government functionaries responsible for mitigating the losses of 2014 flood, and also taking measures to prevent future floods, have spent only Rupees 71 crores in last three years out of the Rupees 1500 crores sanctioned by the World Bank for the purpose. The sanctioned amount is expected to lapse within next thirteen months! There cannot be a worse failure of execution and utilization of funds so easily available in such a hard financial situation faced by the state. In a way it would amount to criminal negligence. Apart from losing the money so generously offered, the delay could create conditions for another deadly flood. In fact, the State High Court has also asked the government to put the Action Plan for flood in the next hearing of the Public Interest Litigation being heard there on the subject.

The state government itself has ordered an enquiry to investigate the bungling in the works of dredging of the River Jhelum and its flood spill over channel. It is a pity that such a thing is occurring in spite of the fact that the State Chief Executive himself has been monitoring these important projects. Some mechanism needs to be put in place for continuous monitoring of these strategically important projects. In earlier times also the State has lost important foreign funding for some vital projects. In mid-seventies the Overseas Development Agency of U.K. had sanctioned money for saving Dal Lake but that project too was lost because of dithering and delay by the state government officers! In the recent times, the Asian Development Bank had sanctioned some aid for drainage, and building roads in Srinagar including the flyovers. It is not known whether the money was fully utilized, and for the purpose for which it was advanced. There was also a rumour that the Asian Development Bank had probably withheld the release of funds for the flyover for environmental reasons? Well, it is lucky that a number of international financial institutions are coming forward to fund various infrastructure projects in Kashmir. However, two things need to be kept in mind. These institutions are not used to abnormal bureaucratic delays of which we have an epidemic in Kashmir! Secondly, it is advisable to always get these projects executed through sound global level organizations or consortium of companies to ensure speedy execution that matches international standards. A living example is the Uri Power Project executed by a Swedish consortium of companies called SKANSKA. The project was completed in time in the most disturbed period of nineties and not only functions well but withstood the 7.5 Richter scale earthquake of 2005! Let us hope the concerned keep these suggestions in view.