WB Project In J-K Stuck, Asks Govt To Sign Special Clause

13 December 2009

Jammu: A Rs 740 crore Participatory Watershed Management project (PWMP) to save forests in Jammu and Kashmir is stuck with the World Bank putting a special clause applied to 'disputed areas'. The state government, however, is hopeful that the issue would be resolved by the end of this year. 'While processing the mega project for funding, World Bank has put a clause in the documents that applies to disputed areas. It had asked the (central) government to sign the clause,' State Forest and Environment Minister Mian Altaf said here today. World Bank has put a 'disclaimer clause' which means that the funding of projects in disputed areas are not used by the parties to endorse their territorial claims. 'We have taken up the issue with the Centre and the Prime Minister. They have also held talks with World Bank. We hope that by the next week or end of December the issue would be resolved and process for funding by World Bank would resume,' Altaf said. The Centre, in April 2009, had sought funds from the World Bank for the PWMP in Jammu and Kashmir. After initial work on the project by World Bank, a team led by its expert N Piccioni visited the three regions - Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir - to assess 11 watershed projects. Altaf said this is for the first time that World Bank has stalled a project in the state. The World Bank had funded a Integrated Watershed Development Programme (IWDP) from 1990-1998 at a cost of Rs 97 crore and a similar kind of project was funded from 1991 to 2005. 'The project needs immediate funding. It is aimed to reserve the degradation, create natural resources based management, enhance productivity and project locals jobs in the projects,' the minister said.