Prepare action plans to address strains in water supply: Mehbooba

JAMMU, APRIL 29, 2016 –  Emphasizing upon sustained efforts to harness State’s abundant water potential, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, Friday committed to go whole hog in providing safe potable drinking water to every household as well as assured irrigation to the farmer community in the state.
To enforce accountability, she said the performance of the engineers will be linked with the success of schemes they execute. “The officers will be held responsible. We are lagging and need to immediately devise a mechanism to take forward all stranded projects,” she stated.
The Chief Minister was speaking while reviewing the functioning of PHE, I&FC Department, here today.
Minister for PHE, I&FC, Sham Chaudhary, Minister of State for Haj & Auqaf , I&C, Power, PHE and I&FC, Syed Farooq Ahmad Andrabi, Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma, Financial Commissioner, Planning & Monitoring, B. B. Vyas and
Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Navin K. Chaudhary, attended the meeting.
While taking firsthand appraisal of the water supply position, Mehbooba Mufti said there should be a well-thought out process before framing the modalities of new schemes, in particular relating to source depletion and long-term viability. She urged the engineers to pick up the gauntlet and get into the nitty-gritty of the projects, adding the schemes do not fail due to fund constraint but primarily due to ill-conceived plans.
“Quick Action Plans and Response Teams have to be drawn up to meet any eventuality on account of water shortage,” she stressed, adding people, especially in rural belts, should not be subjected to any hardships.
The Chief Minister was informed that while there are constrains in Kathua and Samba districts in assured water supply, the situation in most of the other districts in the region remains satisfactory. Comparatively in Kashmir Valley, the water supply position is adversely affected in Kupwara, Bandipora and Pulwama districts, the Chief Minister was informed.
It was given out in the meeting that funding under NRDWP (National Rural Drinking Water Programme) will have to be chased to ensure quality water supply to rural habitations in the state. For this, the Chief Minister asked the
Administrative Secretary to submit UCs on time so that further tranches are received from the Central government.
The Chief Minister also passed directions to accelerate access to quality water supply in all schools and anganwadi centres in the state. She also indicated at introducing Rainwater harvesting in all schools in the state.
PHE Secretary, Sanjeev Verma, informed the Chief Minister that while 233 schools have been provided assured water supply, another 368 schools, along with anganwadi centres, will be taken in the next phase. He also told the meeting that 49 testing labs along with mobile water testing vans under CCDU keep a constant check on the quality of potable water being provided to the people.
In the irrigation and flood control sector, Mehbooba Mufti noted with concern the sluggish fund utilization, partly because of irregular tranches released by the Central government due to non-submission of UCs on time. She said the state has identified potential to irrigate 11 lakh ha, out of which only 4 lakh have been covered far.
The Chief Minister was also briefed about the newly-launched Pradhan Mantri Sinchai Yojana which will fund the spillover schemes of AIBP (Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme). The project envisages physical access of water on the cultivable areas through integration of water resource, distribution and efficient use.
During the meeting, the Chief Minister also obtained to-date status of dredging in river Jhelum and strengthening of Tawi embankments. She reiterated her earlier direction to earth-fill Rakh-e-Arth colony being established for Dal dwellers by providing 60,000 truckloads of dredged out material over the next six months.
Following upon her earlier meeting on status of dredging, Mehbooba Mufti once again reiterated upon convergence by linking labour component of MNREGA with dredging of river Jhelum. She said she will ask the Rural Development Department so that better coordination exists between I&FC and RDD in implementation of the Convergence Plan.
A brief overview of the Rs. 399.29 crore ‘Priority Works for Comprehensive Plan for Flood Management Works on Jhelum Phase I was presented to the Chief Minister. Around Rs.34 crore have been allocated for dredging of the river while as Rs.75 crore will be spent for strengthening of river embankments and spillover channels under the plan.
The mitigation plans for river Jhelum also envisage rapid dewatering facilities in urban areas, adequate emergency response, additional flood spill channel, creation of storage of various tributaries, developing and enhancing the capacity of Wullar Lake, flood plain zoning, solid / waste management and afforestation.
The PHE / I&FC Secretary also briefed the Chief Minister about the status of Tawi Barrage and Artificial Lake Project, which she had visited last weekend.
He also apprised the Chief Minister about the present status of beautification of Tawi and Jhelum riverfronts.
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