Artificial Lake Project Abandoned Due To Pakistan Pressure: Congress

16 May 2015
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Jammu: Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's announcement to abandon the multi-crore artificial lake project for Jammu is snowballing into a big political controversy as the Congress today alleged that the project was shelved due to pressure from Pakistan. 'It is widely believed that the dream project of constructing the artificial lake at Jammu is abandoned following threats from Pakistan,' alleged former minister Sham Lal Sharma, who was Minister for Public Health Engineering, Irrigation and Flood Control in the previous Omar Abdullah-led government. 'Technically, the project is feasible because it was sanctioned after administrative approval from the Central Water Commission. The then Central government had released funds only after it was technically cleared by the experts,' Sharma said while addressing a press conference here today. How come the Chief Minister and the Deputy Chief Minister have assessed that the project is non-feasible?, Sharma asked, adding, 'Neither the Chief Minister nor his deputy is technically expert on this subject.' He said a Detailed Project Report (DPR) of this project was also approved by the technical experts of the country before funds were released for it. He said the project was sanctioned in 2010 with central assistance of the Water Resources Department and funds awarded by the 13th Finance Commission to the tune of Rs 25 crore each and Rs 20 crore was to be shared by the state government. In obvious reference towards objection raised by the Pakistani authorities on his project by raking up the issue of the Indus Water Treaty, Sharma said, 'It appears that there was invisible force that forced the PDP-BJP government to abandon this project.' 'It is unfortunate that the project was abandoned to appease some external forces,' he said and sought clarification from the Union Government and the BJP on the issue. 'The self-proclaimed nationalist BJP is answerable to the people of the country,' he said and asserted that the Congress would not allow the government to abandon such projects. Reacting strongly to the statement of the Chief Minister in which he had opposed sanctioning AIIMS for the Jammu region, Sharma regretted that the Chief Minister was trying to provoke the people of the region by rejecting their just and genuine demands. Former Minister Raman Bhalla, chief spokesman for the Congress Ravinder Sharma, Balwan Singh and others were also present at the press conference.