Cabinet To Decide On Lok Pal

Cabinet To Decide On Lok Pal

6 April 2011
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said a decision to set up Lok Pal in the State was a 'policy decision’’ and could be taken only by the Cabinet. 'A decision on Lok Pal can’t be taken by myself alone. It has to be taken by the entire Cabinet. It’s a policy decision’’, Mr Abdullah said while speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a function organized by the Tourism Department at Hotel Ashoka this afternoon. The demand for Lok Pal in the country has gained ground following indefinite fast launched by social activist Anna Hazare at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi for setting up Lok Pal at the national level. 'Such a policy decision can be taken by the Cabinet alone’’, Mr Abdullah said. 'There is a need to take urgent steps to tackle corruption. What those steps can be and what shape they can have is to be seen,' Omar said. 'We will have discussion in the Cabinet before we make a policy announcement in this regard...I cannot comment on something that I have not discussed with my Cabinet colleagues here,' he said. 'We are taking the issue to the Cabinet in this regard,' he said. He added that the Government has taken a series of measures for curbing the menace of corruption in the State. The Chief Minister said the Government had amended the Anti-Corruption Act to set up the State Vigilance Commission comprising a State Vigilance Commissioner and two Vigilance Commissioners. The appointments of the SVC and VCs would be made soon, he added. Omar said, if required, the Government was even ready to make further amendments in the Anti-Corruption Act, to make the law more stringent. 'We are ready to take all steps to curb the corruption’’, he added. It may be mentioned here that the Chief Minister has declared 2011 as the year against corruption. Referring to the fast-unto-death taken up by veteran social leader Anna Hazare in protest against rising corruption in the country and seeking the passing of the Lok Pal Bill, the Chief Minister said, 'It is a valuable campaign. It is strong. He is adopting the most democratic means, something that our founding fathers had taken to attain independence for the country.' Replying to a question, Mr Abdullah said that Pakistan cricket captain Shahid Afridi's reported comments after his team's defeat in World Cup semi final, would in no way affect the dialogue process between India and Pakistan. 'Clearly, the only risk this Indo-Pak dialogue process faces is terrorism. I do not believe that Shahid Afridi's statement will have any impact on the process,' Omar said. He said :'at least speaking for India, we are far more mature than to react to one individual's point of view. No matter how painful that point of view might be, we are committed to having a sustained dialogue between India and Pakistan.' 'So long as there is no violence like in Mumbai or elsewhere, I believe that this dialogue process will continue. I hope it will deliver results,’’ he added. Omar said India is a matured country and there would be no threat to the dialogue process between India and Pakistan merely on the basis of the statement of Pakistan cricket captain. It may be mentioned here that after returning home following Pakistan's semifinal exit from the World Cup at Mohali after being defeated by India, Afridi had said, 'It is a very difficult thing for us to live with them (Indians) or to have long-term relationship with them. Nothing will come out of talks. See how many times in the past 60 years we have had friendship and then how many times things have gone bad.' During a talk show in Pakistan he had said that Indians are not as large-hearted as Pakistanis while the Indian media has 'negative approach'. Afridi, however, did a volte-face later claiming that he was misunderstood and quoted out of context. Replying to another question on the reports of Chinese presence on the Line of Control (LoC), Omar Abdullah said the State Government’s concern was about development of Ladakh. The movement of troops is to be watched by the Centre, he added. 'Development of Leh, Ladakh is our priority while it was up to the Centre to watch the movement of Chinese troops on the LoC’’, Omar asserted. Earlier, speaking at a two day workshop on 'Practising Responsible Tourism' organized by Eco-Tourism Society of India and World Wildlife Fund in collaboration with State Tourism Department here, Omar said that the world is presently at a crucial juncture of history where a comprehensive and well thought out strategy has become significantly essential to preserve and conserve natural resources. Omar said tourism in the State has the potential of being an engine of growth of economy providing direct and indirect employment to a large number of people. He referred to the forward and backward linkage of tourism with the economy of the State and underlined its relation with the State's fragile environment. The Chief Minister expressed satisfaction over the increased interest towards the eco-tourism in the last few years adding that the large participation in today's workshop is indicative of mindset shift vis-à-vis environment concerns. 'Over last so many decades it was normal to believe that natural resources were unlimited and inexhaustible and damage to these would be taken care of by the nature itself', he said and reminded of the punishment present generation is receiving for the environmental degradation in the past. Speaking at the workshop, Minister for Tourism, Nawang Rigzin Jora referred to the environmental sensitivity of the State and said that workshop would be of enormous value to suggest measures to address the concerns relating to maintenance of eco-balance and carrying forward tourism related activities without creating any conflict


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