Jhelum Dredging: All eyes on Govt as private firm misses another deadline

A Kolkata based dredging firm has again disappointed public and government by failing to meet the target of Jhelum de-silting after its contract was extended in January this year.
The dredger installed near Zero Bridge here remained dysfunctional in the month of April while locals and eyewitnesses said that no effort was made by the company to compensate the already lost time.
The contract for dredging of river Jhelum in Srinagar ended in January 2017. At the time the firm had dredged out only around one lakh cubic meters against the target of seven lakh cubic meters.
The contract deadline was extended till April 2017. “It was an opportunity given to the firm for completion of the contract. However, it has again failed to perform. The dredger installed near Zero Bridge remained non-functional most of the days in month of April,” said an official.
He added that there was lot of public pressure on the authorities, asking them to ensure completion of effective and scientific dredging.
“Hundreds of people come to the office of Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control to make officials accountable after they find dredger dysfunctional in Srinagar. There is lot of public pressure. Even some senior citizens have asked top officials to recommend blacklisting of this firm to government,” said one of the top officials, wishing not to be named.
The firm, under the contract, was supposed to dredge the river stretch from Panthachowk to Panzinara, the distance of approximately 24.5 kilometers and take out seven lakh cubic meters material till January 2017.
An official said that simple calculations tell that the company was supposed to dredge out 1917.808 cubic meters approximately in a day to complete the target on time. “However, the material dredged out is not more than 120 thousand cubic meters. It means, the company has only executed around 17 percent of work (4.16 kms approximately) during the past one year,” he informed.
The company had installed three dredgers in Srinagar, one at Zero Bridge, another at Chocho Fakir Krsihbal and third one at Panzinara.
The official records accessed by Kashmir Post revealed that in December 2016, the company dredged out around 90,000 cubic meters in Srinagar.
It also revealed that Flood Control and Irrigation authorities had time and again written to the firm to expedite the process “or it will be shown exit door and penalized under rules.”
However, those communications remained confined to papers only and authorities never took any decisive action to ensure they achieve the target to meet the deadline. However, one of the officials who wanted to act against firm, was surprisingly attached.
Defending her firm, Kinjal Desai, an executive, said the dredger couldn’t be made functional due to high water level in Jhelum.
“As per Force Majeure Clause 7 of the contract agreement, we have qualified for the entitlement of time till 175 days (ending 30th September),” she said, adding, “However the Chief Engineer arbitrarily without compliance of the contractual agreement, issued extension for 90 days ending 16th April 2017.”
She said that the firm will again apply for extension for one more month. “In entire month of April 2017, we were unable to dredge due to high level of water, which we have informed to the department through various letters,” she added.

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