Jammu, Oct 16 (PTI) Union Minister Jitendra Singh Tuesday expressed concern over the health of the Devika river in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district and urged for immediate measures for its cleaning and conservation. “Due to increase in pollution from various sources, including municipal sewerage, the river had suffered heavy degradation and therefore, deserves to be immediately taken up for cleaning and conservation, the minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office said.

Reviewing the progress and implementation of the ambitious Devika river rejuvenation project at a high level meeting here, Singh said it was the first-of-its-kind project in the state and was important not only from the environment and ecological view point, but also from the religious point of view.

Also known as Devika Nagari, the river originates from the hilly Suddha Mahadev temple in Udhampur district and flows down towards western Punjab (now in Pakistan) where it merges with the Ravi river. It is revered by Hindus as the sister of river Ganga.

Additional Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Arun Kumar Mehta, District Development Commissioner Ravinder Kumar, Director of urban local bodies in Jammu, R S Tara, and other senior officers attended the meeting, an official spokesman said.

He added that threadbare discussion was held on the preparations needed for starting the project.

The attendees at the meeting were informed that tenders for package-I amounting to Rs 8.20 crore and package-II amounting to Rs 145.52 crore had been floated, and that the process would be completed in November and work started immediately, the spokesman said.

The Union minister directed the district development commissioner to visit the Sabarmati or the Gomti river development project, along with experts, to incorporate new ideas in this project.

He also directed 100 per cent coverage of individual households for solid and liquid waste management.

Singh also gave assurances that the current government was endeavouring to complete the construction work of all major projects in the district in a time-bound manner.

He said ongoing developmental works should not be stopped due to lack of funds and assured all possible help from his side.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.