Sayeed gives more powers to Leh Council
29 December 2002
The Asian Age
Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir government of Mufti Muhammad Sayeed Sunday took a major step to smooth emotions of Buddhists of Leh district by increasing the financial and executive powers of the Leh Autonomous Hill Development Council. The council would now have powers to allot land and would not require government approval for administrative decisions that had financial implications up to Rs 50 million, Mr Sayeed said at a press conference here. Mr Sayeed’s PDP and its coalition partner Congress had promised ''justice to all the three regions of the state'' in its common minimum programme of governance. The chief minister announced that the chief executive councillor and the chairman of the council would be ranked along with cabinet ministers of the Kashmir government. Executive councillors would be equated with deputy ministers. Council chairman Thupstan Cheewang, who was present at the press conference, described the move as a ''historic decision'' and said he was ''happy'' with it. The council, which had been constituted in 1995, had been demanding increased powers for long but former chief minister Farooq Abdullah had been dilly-dallying on the issue for the past seven years. Mr Cheewang, however, parried a question on the demand for union territory status for the Ladakh region.