Srinagar: The J&K Government is mulling shifting Kashmir Haat from Srinagar to south Kashmir. The government plans to set up a state-of-the-art Kashmir Haat in Pulwama district under the World Bank-funded Jhelum and Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP).The Rs 40-crore Kashmir Haat will be established in Pampore in Pulwama after shifting the existing one from Srinagar’s business centre Jahangir Chowk.“The government has decided to shift Kashmir Haat from Srinagar to Pampore after the World Bank agreed to consider it under the JTFRP,” an official in the Industries Department told The Tribune.However, World Bank officials have sought a feasibility report of the project, including its environmental and social impact report. The J&K Government has been asked to follow proper guidelines before shifting the project to the outskirts of the city.Officials said the government had invited tenders to hire a private consultation agency to undertake the feasibility study.“It is a livelihood project and forms one of the components of the JTFRP. The World Bank has asked the J&K Government to go for feasibility report in the first instance that why Kashmir Haat is being shifted from the existing place, which is located at the centre of Srinagar, to the outskirts. Also, the environment and social aspect of the project have to be kept in consideration and whether the artisans will be happy in shifting the project,” said Bashir Ahmad Shah, Director Technical, JTFRP.The $250-million JTFRP is aimed to support recovery and increase disaster resilience, and help the government to respond promptly and effectively to an emergency.The World Bank project is meant to cover reconstruction and strengthening of critical infrastructure, including roads and bridges, restoration of urban flood management infrastructure, livelihood in 22 districts of the state. In addition, it has been drafted to strengthen the disaster risk management capacity and contingent emergency response.However, officials alleged that the government was using the infrastructure building under the JTFRP to entice voters in its south Kashmir stronghold.They said government was focusing more on infrastructure building under the project and not doing enough on better preparedness for flood management and early warning communication systems.The World Bank had approved the project on June 2, 2015, after Omar Abdullah-led previous NC-Congress coalition government took up the matter with the Central government. The project is to be completed before June 30, 2020. Kashmir valley was struck by a devastating deluge in September, 2014 after week long rainfall which caused Jhelum to swell and breach its embankments.
Tribune News Service