After remaining in limbo for almost 16 years, International Convention Centre at Jammu is likely to see the light of the day in near future with State Cabinet is going to accord approval for resumption of work on this prestigious project. The Cabinet is meeting under the chairmanship of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah on April 26 evening.
Authoritative sources told EXCELSIOR that decision to establish International Convention Centre at Jammu was taken in November 1996 and accordingly vide Government order dated December 3, 1996, a Committee was constituted under the chairmanship of then Principal Secretary to Chief Minister to formulate plan for establishment of convention center contiguous to State Guest House.
The execution of project was actually initiated in 1998 at an estimated cost of Rs 12.21 crore and it was to be completed in 12 months. But its fate continued to hang in balance due to one after another issues, which otherwise were either avoidable or could be easily resolved within the shortest possible time.
In 1999, some part of the proposed construction was deleted from the scope of the project and in 2003, M/s Ganga Contract and Projects Pvt Limited, New Delhi, which was allotted the electrification work, left the work halfway. However, it took four years to the then Government to terminate the contract with the company and in 2009 the execution of remaining electrification work was allotted to SICOP, sources said.
"Due to delay in the execution of the project, some of the already executed works suffered damages thereby rendering huge expenditure as infructuous", they said, adding "during this process, the cost of the material as well as labour escalated enormously and need of changes in some specifications as well as execution of certain additional items such as road network was being felt".
In January 2011, a comprehensive review of the project was undertaken by the Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, after inspection of the site by a group of officers and it was decided to work out revised estimates/ Detailed Project Report. Accordingly, the revised estimates were worked out at Rs 24.61 crore including Rs 82 lakh for rectification of the damaged works, sources said, adding due to abandoning of the project for several years, its cost got escalated from Rs 12.21 crore to Rs 24.61 crore.
The issue again came up for discussion when Chief Minister was reviewing the progress of mega development projects few months back, sources said, adding on the instructions of Chief Minister, the matter was taken up with Planning and Finance Department and both gave concurrence.
"Now the Hospitality and Protocol Department is formally placing a proposal before the State Cabinet for administrative approval to construction of convention center at a revised cost of Rs 24.61 crore and resumption of work through the same contractors on the existing terms of the subsisting contract", sources said, adding "after about 16 years, this prestigious project is now likely to see the light of the day".
They informed that Hospitality and Protocol Department will prepare a video film of work executed till date in order to maintain the record of infructuous expenditure.