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Will probe panel expose irregularities in dredging contracts?
5/15/2019 11:33:37 PM

Early Times Report
SRINAGAR, May 15: As government has constituted a committee to look into irregularities committed during award of contracts for dredging in rivers and lakes especially post-2014 floods, questions are being raised about whether the probe will be completed within the stipulated time and real culprits are brought to justice.
The committee headed by Principal Secretary Housing and Urban Development Department (HUDD) has been asked to probe into contracts awarded by Irrigation and Flood Control (IFC) and Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA).
The government vide its order No: 575-GAD of 2019, dated 11.05.2019 has constituted 3-member high level committee to probe into allotment of all the contracts related to dredging of river Jhelum, Dal Lake and some other water-bodies located in Srinagar city. The committee will probe allotments made post-2010 especially after 2014 floods when a Kolkata-based company was allotted dredging contract in the Jhelum. Other members of the committee are administrative secretaries of the Revenue and PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control (IFC).
Pertinently a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on this issue has already been filed by Environmental Policy Group (EPG) before J&K High Court last year. The government is under severe pressure from the High Court as the matter was listed only a few days back before the division bench headed Chief Justice Geeta Mittal.
During the hearing of the PIL Senior Additional Advocate General representing government told High Court that 92% dredging of Jhelum had been completed on scientific norms and project closed. This led to exchange of heated argument between Senior Additional Advocate General B A Dar and Convener of Environmental Policy Group(EPG) Faiz Bakshi. During the argument on the issue EPG Convener accused Sr AAG of misleading the court and covering acts of omission and commission of Irrigation & Flood Control Department in taking the required flood mitigation measures during the past four and a half years.
EPG drew the attention of Chief Justice to their petition on floods filed 3 years ago having raised serious questions about the technical aspect of dredging, the concern expressed by experts and columnists from time to time about the tardiness, inefficacy and unscientific manner in which dredging was carried out in Jhelum. The court was told that it was only the Irrigation & Flood Control Department which was convinced about the job they were doing when everyone else spoke in one voice of dissent. EPG told the court that on one hand the learned government counsel was speaking about efficiently culminated dredging process but on the other the Governor had ordered a high level enquiry into the illegal tendering and implementation of dredging which only vindicated petitioners averment made in the petition.
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