August 2018 News
Governor Succeeds Where Elected Govts Failed13 August 2018
Srinagar: In his near two-month long stint as the head of the administration in Jammu Kashmir, Governor Narinder Nath Vohra has taken some measures and reforms which previous two elected governments either kept on the backburner or did not pay any heed at all. In just five meetings of the State Administrative Council (SAC), headed by Governor himself, the land has been transferred to the majority of the developmental projects pending for the want of clearance by the earlier state cabinets of Peoples Democratic Party-BharatiyaJanata Party (PDP-BJP) as well as National Conference-Congress governments. The SAC accorded approval to the prestigious AIIMS project at Vijaypur, Ring Road Srinagar, 14 projects of PMGSY, and one project pertaining to GREF. Another project that was cleared was regarding the laying of 132 KV transmission line from Grid Station Katra to Gran (Reasi) for Konkan Railways. The forest land was also sanctioned for 43 projects in various parts of the State for developmental activities in drinking water, road, transmission and hydropower sectors. The political considerations of elected leaders have long caused the delay in transfer of land for the majority of these projects. The State administration was also relieved of adhocism along with repatriation of attached employees to parent departments. The General Administration Department (GAD) on the fourth day of the Governor's rule issued orders directing the administrative secretaries to detach all attached officials to their parent departments who had been brought on deputation by the previous governments. Last week, Secretary School Education issued similar orders to the Chief Educational Officers to repatriate all attached teachers to their parent districts. The practice of additional charges to administrative secretaries has also been dealt with to a certain extent in comparison to the adhocism institutionalized by the previous governments for bringing in officers of their choice. In another move to rectify ill-planned decisions of the previous governments, the Governor called for an assessment of total funds required to complete major development projects which were taken up 'without requisite approvals'. The Governor has now requested the Government of India (GoI) for a one-time sanction of a special grant to complete all pending projects after a reliable assessment was drawn up by the Chief Secretary. In the health sector, the SAC approved a roll-out of Ayushman Bharat-PradhanMantriRashtriyaSwasthyaSuraksha Mission (PMRSSM) in the State covering 6,13,648 families comprising 36 lakh souls in the State. The schemes have been implemented in different parts of India for over four years now but in the State, the PDP-BJP government did not pay any heed to implement them. The flagship schemes are aimed at providing assured health coverage of up to Rs 5 lakh per family per year for secondary and tertiary care hospitalisation for 1350 identified diseases through a cashless procedure with the help of a smart health card with a unique ID, which would be issued to the beneficiaries. Also to ensure the smooth take-off of the five new medical colleges in the State, the Governor called for putting in place a multidisciplinary committee of officers and experts to coordinate infrastructure and academic issues of these colleges. The new medical colleges at Anantnag, Baramulla, Kathua, Rajouri, and Doda were being constructed at a snail's pace under the previous government. In order to ensure punctuality in government offices, the Governor directed all Administrative Secretaries to ensure implementation of Biometric Attendance System in their offices, as well as subordinate departments and organisations. To ensure cleaning and preservation of water bodies, especially the Dal Lake, which has been severally degraded during the past decade, the SAC ordered engagement of professionals to revive the water body. The Governor talked to Indian Navy Chief Admiral to seek Navy's help in identifying experts who could undertake a benchmark survey of the Dal and later also of the Wular lake. Vohra also directed the administration to get in touch with the Chairman-cum-Managing Director (CMD) of the Dredging Corporation of India. The J&K Lakes and Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) which was in need of world-class machines for cleaning the Dal and Nigeen lakes had to wait for the Governor's tenure for the tender process to start. The matter of augmentation of mechanical resources of the lakes authority has been pending for a long time for want of decision making. Appreciating the ground realities including excessive weed growth, macrophyte infestation and massive expansion of lily patches in the open water expanse of Dal-Nageen Lake, the SAC accorded sanction to arrange financial and mechanical resources for effective and timely management of lake cleaning operations. Most of the available machines with LAWDA have outlived their utility and are being operated beyond their working capacity. The withdrawal and re-deployment of these machines from one to another basin of a 25 sq km lake area has been severely impeding the working efficiency and reducing the net progress. The SAC gave nod to the enactment of 'The Jammu & Kashmir State Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Bill, 2018' and 'The Jammu and Kashmir Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) Bill, 2018'. The Jammu & Kashmir State Trust for Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities Bill, 2018 was long pending due to the mess created by the previous government with the bill doing continuous rounds between the Social Welfare and Finance departments. The financial implication associated with the bill had led the disabled people under various banners to hit streets against the previous government. The SAC also approved the bill 'The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety (Amendment) Bill, 2018', contemplating massive up-gradation of infrastructure, particularly for improving the living conditions of jail inmates. Taking note of the directions passed by the Supreme Court, the SAC emphasized the need for massive up-gradation of jails at Jammu, Udhampur, Anantnag, Kupwara and Central Jail Srinagar. In another major decision, the SAC approved exemption of turnover and experience conditions for all State Start-ups and Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs) in the State including price preference of 20 percent for public procurement by the government departments and organisations. The SAC also approved the launch of a big-ticket Employment Generation programme 'J&K Rural Employment Generation Programme (JKREGP)' targeting 1500 unemployed youth annually in the initial phase. To bring in transparency in the recruitment system at the bottom level, the SAC approved a long time demand for the abolition of interviews for all Class IV posts in the State, a decision only long contemplated by the previous governments. National Conference (NC) lawmaker and former minister, Muhammad Akbar Lone said the perception among the common populace about the incumbent Governor was that he makes the administration people-friendly. Lone said there was no doubt that the administration under the Governor had been always more efficient compared to politically elected ones. 'The Chief Minister needs to make the officers and the ministers work and the one at the helm should be very efficient,' Lone said. 'Governor Vohra makes the officers accountable as well as answerable.' Former minister and PDP lawmaker, Syed BasharatBukhari said there was no doubt that political system was of paramount importance and utility in a democratic setup but the decisions taken by the Governor's administration, which are structural in nature, would go a long way in resolving the problems of the people at the grass root level. 'I am happy such decisions are being taken. A system is created at the top, which itself translates to the bottom level,' he said. Former Deputy Chief Minister and rightwing BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP) lawmaker, Kavinder Gupta said the delay in various projects and reform works was mainly hampered by the PDP ministers holding important portfolios of Finance, Revenue and even Planning and Development. He said if BJP had been alone in the government, the pace of work would have been much faster than under the present dispensation headed by the Governor.