SrinagarThe Jammu and Kashmir High Court has taken on record a report filed by Chief Engineer PHE, stating that portable drinking water remains unavailable to eight out of sixty habitations in Ramhall block of Handwara under National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) scheme. Thirty three other habitations have been partially covered under the centrally sponsored scheme.
Hearing a Public Interest Litigation, a division bench headed by Chief Justice Badar Durez Ahmad took the report on record and announced to consider it on next date of proceedings.
As per counsel for petitioner, approximately Rs 45 crores have been swindled and the fact has been admitted in its reply by the government.
He said the money was meant for the scheme launched to provide potable drinking water to the people of Handwara and adjoining hilly areas.
Following the submissions, the high court had asked the chief engineer to file the status report, indicating therein as to whether drinking water has been provided to the people for which the NRDWP scheme was launched or not.
The Chief Engineer submitted that the water supply in the Ramhall Block that out of 60 habitations, 17 habitations are getting 100 percent quantity of drinking water under the scheme and are designated as FC (fully covered).
About 35 habitations, the Chief Engineer submitted that they are getting water supply between 10-LPCD to less than 55-LPCD and are designated as PC (partially covered) and remaining habitation do not get the supply more than 10-LPCD which is considered as below normal.
A departmental inquiry was ordered by the high court on 15 December 2014 on the first hearing of the PIL filed by one Javed Ahmad Zargar, seeking probe into it and bringing to book the erring officials.
The direction has subsequently been reiterated from time to time by the court and finally on 23 November last year, two weeks more were granted to the Commissioner Secretary to file the status report regarding the progress in the department enquiry as well as about the investigation carried by the Crime Branch Kashmir into the scam which was unearthed in the PHE department Handwara in 2014.
The Crime Branch had actually taken the investigation of case (FIR no. 91/2014 in police station Handwara) from police. Additional Advocate General B A Dar on previous hearing submitted that Crime Branch has concluded its investigation and filed a final report before the trial court.
It is now for the court of law to initiate proceedings and take the criminal trial to its logical conclusion, Dar had said.
In compliance of earlier directions by the court, the government has placed 16 officials from the rank of Executive Engineer to Junior Engineer under suspension after finding them prima facie involved in irregularities and embezzlement of crores of rupees under NRDWP scheme .
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.