J&K seeks more time for WB-funded Rs 1500 cr reconstruction program

Apprehensive about meeting June 2020 deadline for completion of World Bank- financed reconstruction programme, the J&K government has rushed to the Union Finance Ministry for time extension.

Citing “peculiar circumstances” and “adverse weather conditions” in the state, the project monitoring unit of Jhelum- Tawi Flood Recovery Project has sought 18-month extension for completing the project.

“It is requested to kindly consider to accord sanction for extension of the project period till December 2021 (extension of 18 months beyond June 2020) so that project gets completed effectively and the purpose for which loan was negotiated is fulfilled in the interest of the state,” reads a communiqué sent by state government to Department of Economic Affairs, Finance Ministry.

The department of Economic Affairs deals with financial assistance received by the states from multilateral agencies for undertaking development programmes. 

When contacted, CEO of JTFRP, Raghav Langer, said they have sought extension in time period because they could not undertake work due to 2016 unrest and limited working season in Kashmir.

“We have been told to finalise all the tenders by September and then the Finance Ministry in consultation with the World Bank will decide on our request,” he said.

Earlier Greater Kashmir reported that state government has been able to spent only Rs 71 crore from Rs 1500 crore project.

After publication of the story, the National Conference slammed the previous BJP-PDP government and Governor’s regime for diminutive spending on Jhelum-Tawi Flood Recovery Project. Interestingly, the state government, in the letter sent to Union Finance Ministry, has also acknowledged that progress has not been on expected lines. The Rs 1500 crore project was cleared by the World Bank in 2015 for undertaking reconstruction of infrastructure hit by the 2014 devastating floods, and strengthening disaster management capabilities in the state, which is highly vulnerable to natural disasters like earthquake, floods, etc.

In the past two years, the World Bank and the steering committee of the project have expressed concern over sluggish pace in implementation of the project.

 In 2017 and 2018, the WB respectively rated progress of the project as “satisfactory” and “moderately unsatisfactory”.