Jammu legislative complex faces fund dearth as delay escalates cost

Jammu: Successive Chief Ministers and even Governors who were at the helm of affairs in Jammu & Kashmir in the last decade spent lavishly on hard-selling the theme of “good governance”. However, one such ambitious project still under construction for over one decade clearly exposes the “work culture” in the region. It is not just any other infrastructure project but the new legislative complex in Jammu. There is no fund for its completion.

Ironically, no attempts have been made to expedite the construction work and check the “unproductive” cost escalation.

The foundation stone of the complex was laid by the former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah in Jammu on July 1, 2011.

Initially, the project was estimated to be built at a cost of Rs 113 crore. Now the project execution agency — Jammu Kashmir Project Construction Corporation Ltd (JKPCC) — is awaiting the nod of the UT administration to complete the project at a revised cost of over Rs 190 crore.

According to the project engineers, the work on the project was going on smoothly till 2015 but the same hit the roadblock during the BJP-PDP alliance Government in office.

According to these official sources, it is around the same time the project executing agency had sought clearance from the Government as the revised cost was projected to be over Rs 150 crore. So far around Rs 80 crore has been spent by the JKPCC.

Non-availability of the funds not only delayed the completion of the project but added to the cost escalation. After the fall of the BJP-PDP alliance Government, the project remained a non-starter.

In August 2019, even after the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir was reorganised following the Abrogation of Article 370 and Article 35A the project executing agency failed to receive the funds to complete the pending works.

The work was delayed further during Covid-19 pandemic.

Executive Director and JKPCC Chief Engineer Pradeep Kumar Sharma told The Pioneer, “Recently Chief Secretary Arun Kumar Mehta had visited the project site and issued necessary directions to submit the revised proposals and restart the work on the project on ground zero at the earliest.”

According to official sources, the mult- story structure is almost complete. Some civil/finishing works are left beside a connecting bridge to the complex.

“Once the funds are made available to us we should be able to complete the pending works in less than 6 months time”, a senior JKPCC engineer added.

Referring to certain design modifications Chief Engineer Pardeep Sharma said, “We are working hard on it. We will soon recall design consultants of the project to submit a revised proposal incorporating all the necessary modifications for a formal approval.”

He said we are not supposed to furnish the Upper House as the same has been abolished. Sharma, however, admitted the project was delayed over the non-availability of funds in the initial stages.

Project Engineers also attributed the escalated cost of the project to certain modifications suggested at a later stage which included the installation of the most advanced electro-mechanical and sound system

The complex has been equipped with a modern firefighting/alarm system, lifts, digital lighting control system, FACADE lighting, LAN, CCTV, PAVA, AV system, and solar lights besides rainwater harvesting and treatment systems.

In the Assembly Hall, space for 500 people for the Press gallery and visitors gallery has been created.