Navigation on Kashmir's Jhelum river will be restarted: Soz

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Srinagar, Sep 17 (UNI) Admitting that work on river Jhelum has slowed down despite Rs 12 crore provided by the Centre, Union Water Resources Development Minister Prof Saifuddin Soz today said the Japan international corporation has also come forward to give funds for restarting navigation on the river.

He said Jhelum has a vast potential of navigation and all should contribute to make it possible.

The Minister also admitted that encroachment on the Dal Lake was going on, but hurriedly added that the issue would be discussed next time.

On objections by Pakistan on Tulbul project, he said Tulbul was just to keep the water level up in Jhelum during winter when it comes down.

''I have told the Pakistan delegation that Tulbul is just a log and not a barrage, he said, adding we want to keep for navigation the water at some level in Jhelum which is not prohibited under the Indus-water treaty agreement.'' ''The Pak delegation was satisfied and we are hopeful that they will agree with us,'' he added.

Mr Soz said his Ministry had released Rs 12 crore for Jhelum's restoration to its pristine glory while the state government had provided Rs 6 crore.

To a question that work on the project had stopped, he said,''I will check from the government and added that as per reports, the work is going on but at a slow-pace.'' However, he said he had full confidence in Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad ''who has a political will to complete the project.'' Prof Soz said Jhelum had potential of 170 km long water transport from Khanabal to Wullar lake and Baramulla.

Besides providing people cheaper transport, it would also help revive Kashmiri culture, restore the river to its original glory that would help promote tourism in the state, he added.

Prof Soz said he wanted to do something for the future generation ''which will never forgive us if we failed in our duty to preserve the water bodies''.

He said ''Veer'' at Chatabal in the down town city on Jhelum would be reconstructed. ''It was constructed in 1898-2012 by then Maharaja and we will renovate it for navigation,'' he added.

The Minister expressed satisfaction that encroachments around the Nilnag in Badgam district had been removed with the active cooperation of local people. ''They gave their land without any compensation for the development of the Nilnag,'' he said and urged the people to come forward to save the water bodies.

UNI

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