Different voices emerged within the PDP-BJP alliance again as the latter rejected chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed's remark that the creation of an artificial lake on the Tawi was not feasible, asserting that it was committed for the project's completion.
Speaking to reporters at party headquarters here, BJP state spokesperson Suresh Ajay Magotra claimed that some sort of a "misinformation campaign" had been launched regarding the shelving of the artificial lake project in Jammu, which he said, was totally "false and baseless".
"BJP is committed for creation of the artificial lake. While creation of artificial lake on Tawi river in Jammu had been delayed by the previous NC-Congress government, the BJP stands for its early completion," BJP state spokesperson
Suresh Ajay Magotra told reporters at party headquarters here.
Sayeed had on Friday hinted at shelving of the previous NC-Congress government's artificial lake project in Jammu, saying it was not "feasible".
"As for as lake project is concerned, I will tell you, economically and technically, it is not feasible," Mufti had told reporters during an informal interaction with reporters.
However, later in the evening, deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh had said that the artificial lake was a dream project of the people of Jammu and that the Centre had assured its help in ironing out the technical problems.
Singh, who had rushed to New Delhi and raised the issue with Union minister for water resources Uma Bharati, said, "Artificial Lake on river Tawi is a dream project of the people of Jammu. It cannot be wound up".
The BJP and the PDP had earlier expressed divergent views on composite townships for settlement of Kashmiri Pandits in the Valley.
Opposition parties Congress, JKNPP and National Conference had on Saturday hit out at the BJP-PDP government for "shelving" the dream project of the people of Jammu.
Reacting to the criticism, Magotra said the previous government of NC-Congress had only passed time during its rule and done nothing to complete the lake project.
"BJP's commitment towards creation of this lake can also be well judged from the fact that deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh on Friday rushed to New Delhi to meet Union minister for water resources, and discussed the lake's technicalities.
"As a follow up, the Union minister called an emergency high-level meeting of K Vohra, director Indus Commission; MK Mathur, incharge floods department, commission projects, during which technical issues were discussed in length. The deputy CM was also present in the meeting," he said.
Magotra further said that a high-level delegation from the Centre will be visiting Jammu soon in this regard.
Meanwhile, the Congress has criticised chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed for shelving the project of artificial lake on the Tawi. The party said the BJP, which is a coalition partner, has meekly surrendered before the PDP just to share power.
"The government has already spent Rs 55 crore for this project, which is to be completed in 2016. The project was sanctioned in 2010 with central assistance from the water resources department.
The 13th Finance Commission had also sanctioned Rs 25 crore for this project and Rs 20 crore was to be shared by the state government," the Congress leaders said in a joint press conference.
The press conference was addressed by former Congress ministers Sham Lal Sharma, Raman Bhalla, Mula Ram and Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) spokesperson Ravinder Sharma.
The state government's move has further politically embarrassed the BJP, which is already facing criticism for setting up the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Kashmir. Minister of state (MoS) in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Jitendra Singh had claimed that the AIIMS was to be set up in the Jammu region.
Congress leaders said there is no justification for abandoning the project when crores of public money had already been spent on the project.
Meanwhile, roads and buildings minister Altaf Bukhari told HT that the artificial lake project on the Tawi is technically not feasible. He said silt is continuously deposited in the Tawi and even if the project is completed, it will not serve its purpose after some time, as de-silting and stones have to be removed again and again. The minister said the project was conceived by someone in the outgoing NC-Congress government with some vested interests. He said the department is planning to develop embankments of the river and ring road along the river, like a marine drive in Mumbai, which will take off the traffic pressure from the existing routes.