Srinagar, Nov 29: In its endeavour to boost the restoration of Jhelum- the lifeline of Kashmir- the State Government has started the process to procure state-of-the-art machines from the United States.
Officials said the decision to procure the machines was taken after the Government of India recently sanctioned Rs 97 crores for Jhelum conservation. The Government has placed orders with the Ellicott Dredges— one of the oldest and successful dredging companies based in US, which has been supplying dredging equipment worldwide for past over 125 years.
The Irrigation and Flood Control Department had last year sent Rs 2000 crore project to the Ministry of Water Resources for sanction. The project included many restoration works including improvement of Jhelum’s existing dredging of outfall channels, protection and anti-erosion works and increasing hydraulic efficiency.
However, the Ministry had approved only a part of the project costing Rs 97 crores to facilitate immediate interventions including procurement of machines and dredging in Jhelum particularly of its flood spill channels in Srinagar and outflow stream at Daubgah and Ningli in Baramulla.
The Chief-Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control, Mir Najeebullah, said the process has been started to procure the dredgers. “Jhelum’s outflow channel in Baramulla has lost its carrying capacity due to extensive siltation. The channel needs immediate dredging to facilitate smooth flow of the river. The mammoth job can only be undertaken with latest machinery. We have placed orders from one of the best companies based in US for procurement of the dredgers. Hopefully, the machines will reach the Valley by March 2011,” Najeebullah told Greater Kashmir.
He said the department has selected the same company from which first dredger was procured in early ‘50s. “Presently, we are undertaking cleaning of the river’s flood channels to minimize the flood threat in summer. Due to siltation and encroachment, the river’s overall carrying capacity has decreased up to 84.96 cusecs from 481.45 cusecs. The project envisages to improve and sustain its capacity and then go for beautification,” he said.
He said the department has digitized all the data regarding intake and outtake water levels, flood gauge and river’s carrying capacity for the past 50 years and it facilitated formulation of a comprehensive plan for the Jhelum’s long-term conservation.
“The completion of the Chattabal Weir will help to maintain a constant water level in the Jhelum from Islamabad to Srinagar and raise the flow of its spill channels including Sonar and Kuta Kul respectively. We will also procure a multipurpose Water Master Classic machine exclusively to dredge out the spill channels,” he added.
Originating from Verinag in south Kashmir, Jhelum is joined by four streams, Sundran, Brang, Arapath and Lidder is Islamabad district. Besides small streams like Veshara and Rambiara also feed the river with fresh lease of water. The river is considered to be lifeline for Kashmir as it is the main source for irrigation. However, during the past over three decades, Jhelum’s glory has been marred due to inflow of sewage, dumping of garbage and, importantly, absence of conservation measures.