PDP Minister removes NC Minister’s 2014 plaque, lays fresh foundation stone for Budgam water scheme
With total development freeze in Valley, PDP-BJP Govt starts take-2 of foundation stones
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Dec 7: Stealing credit for developmental works is an old trait of politicians in Jammu and Kashmir. But, what the Mehbooba Mufti government’s Minister of Agriculture and PDP’s MLA of Chrar-e-Sharief did in his constituency on last Monday is uncommon. On December 5, Minister and MLA Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjuria carried with him a team of officials to lay a fresh foundation stone for an irrigation scheme for which the foundation stone had been laid by three Ministers of the Omar Abdullah government in June 2014.
According to an official press release, issued by Department of Information vide No: PR/DI/16/5564 on December 5, 2016, and got published in many of the newspapers, including STATE TIMES, Mr Hanjura laid foundation stone for construction of Water Storage Tank at Arzan-Garzan in Chrar-e- Sharief constituency. The Minister said at the occasion that the Rs 25 crore irrigation scheme would irrigate 1022 hectares of land in Chrar-e-Sharief constituency.
“The project has been sanctioned at an estimated cost of Rs 25.28 crore under Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP). On completion the project will irrigate 1022 hectares of land of seven habitations of Chrar-e-Sharief constituency. These areas include Charwani, Zakhipora, Kakavring, Palpora, Dardpora, Hathpora, Tangnar, Chack and Mohanjdaur”, said the press release.
“Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that the Government is committed to provide basic amenities like adequate drinking water, power and road connectivity to the people of the State especially in rural and hilly areas. He said several initiatives have been taken in this regard adding that the Centre has already sanctioned a package of Rs 80,000 crore for the overall development of State”, said the press release further while highlighting Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Rs 80,000 crore economic package which was announced by the PM in Srinagar on November 7, 2015.
“Mr. Hanjura said the present Chief Minister, Ms Mehbooba Mufti is carrying forward the mission of Late Mufti Sahab and she had recently laid foundation stone of two Nursing Colleges at Awantipora and Chrar-e-Sharief”, it added.
The press release said that Deputy Commissioner of Budgam, SSP of Budgam and “senior officers of Irrigation and Flood Control department” were present on the occasion.
Conducting a reality check, STATE TIMES learned that none of the senior officers of Irrigation and Flood Control department accompanied the Minister. Minister of Irrigation and Flood Control Choudhary Sham Lal, MoS Irrigation, Syed Farooq Andrabi, as also Chief Engineer, SE and Executive Engineer were conspicuously absent from the function. However an Assistant Executive Engineer was obediently in attendance.
Insiders revealed to this newspaper that the officers of their department stood away as it was difficult for them to attend the foundation laying of a scheme which had been approved in the previous regime and for which even the funds had been released. They provided a full album of the photographs which make it clear that the same scheme’s foundation stone had been laid by Omar Abdullah government’s Minister of Irrigation and Flood Control Sham Lal Sharma, Minister of Finance and National Conference’s Chrar-e-Sharief MLA Abdul Rahim Rather and Minister of State for Irrigation and Flood Control Nazir Ahmad Gurezi at the same spot on June 26, 2014.
The news item and photograph of the foundation laying was released by the State Information Department on June 26, 2014, and got published in newspapers on June 27, 2014.
“As the honourable Minister insisted that he would lay a fresh foundation scheme, we spoke to our Minister. When we explained to him that the foundation stone had already been laid in June 2014, he advised us to stay away. None of the senior officers attended it. We chose not to be part of it”, said an official. According to another official, AEE was put under pressure through the district administration and forced to accompany the Minister. “This scheme had not been executed in the last two years but that doesn’t mean we could remove the old stone and lay a fresh one for the incumbent Minister’s pleasure”, he said.
Attempts to reach Mr Hajura failed as his mobile phone was constantly not reachable. Chief Engineer Irrigation Kashmir Mir Javed Jaffar and SE (Hydraulic) Budgam-Srinagar Imtiyaz Ahmad Dhar did not respond to phone calls.
[Published to today’s STATE TIMES]