JAMMU, Jan 17: Minister for Finance Dr Haseeb Drabu today announced constitution of an Expert Group to study the reasons for development deficit in the State’s hard areas and suggest measures for boosting infrastructure development in such neglected areas.
“The Government would also make development deficit in remote areas of the State, a part of the terms of reference of the proposed State Finance Commission so that a holistic view is taken on the issue and the allocation of resources is made accordingly,” the Finance Minister said while replying to the discussion on Budget 2018-19 in the upper house.
He said there are many hard-to-reach areas in the state, extending from Kupwara to Kathua, which have faced neglect over the years and need special attention and focussed development with additional resources.
He said the Finance Commission to be constituted by the government will also come up with the recommendations to uplift these areas.
Acknowledging the problems being faced by the people in the hard-to-access areas of the State, Dr Drabu announced a special duty allowance of 10% of basic pay for the state government employees posted in such areas adding that the government will also work to bring these hard areas at par with the other ‘developed’ areas.
Regarding implementation of 7th Pay Commission Recommendations for the employees of PSUs and Autonomous bodies, the Finance Minister said the government has no objection if these organizations implement the pay commission recommendations subject to availability of resources.
To bring more beneficiaries under the ambit of various social security schemes, Dr Drabu said that additional funds to the tune of Rs 15 crore each shall be added to the existing corpus for Old Age and Widow Pension.
He also announced that the widowed daughters of the government employees will also be eligible for pension as earlier announced for their married daughters.
Dr Drabu also proposed merger of Marriage Assistance and various other scholarship and welfare schemes for girls to make these more comprehensive and productive. He said the government will come up with a consolidated welfare scheme for which the additional incentive shall be added with Aadhar linkage to avoid possible duplication.
The Finance Minister said that the state government in the last three years has been putting in financial resources for generation of employment in the state.
He also proposed to revisit the Fixed Travel Allowance (FTA) provided to engineers working in the government departments to make it rational saying that currently FTA for these employees is a meagre Rs 30 per month.
The Finance Minister further announced increase in the refreshment of the government employees during assembly session for overtime work. He said it would be enhanced from the existing limit of Rs 7500 to Rs 10000.
RTI Act not being implemented in true spirit: SIC
Srinagar, March 20: The State Information Commission (SIC) on Wednesday agreed that there were loopholes in public information deliverance system.
The Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009 came into force on 20 March 2009, repealing and replacing the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2004 is not been implemented and followed by the authority in a professional manner.
On eve of 10th anniversary of RTI Act Jammu and Kashmir, Commissioner, SIC, Mohammad Ashraf Mir discussed various “deficiencies, weaknesses” that are responsible for the modest implementation of Act.
Mir said that RTI act is not been taken strictly by the authorities. “We know that the Act is not implemented the way it was designed to be implemented,” he accepted.
Mir said that they know that the government and its instrumentalities love to take credit of RTI Act but are reluctant to submit to its laws.
Moreover, the department is not professionally trained to deal with the dissemination of information.
“The public information officers (PIOs) in government departments are still not well versed with the work, resulting to denial of information to applicants,” said Mir.
He added that this powerful tool of right to get information is sometimes being misused in the hands of citizens also. “The information sought under the act is not be used in the manner it ought to be used.”
Mir said that there is a lack of awareness among the citizens who ought to use the RTI to get the required information, adding that the NOG’s and the social activists who are veterans of the RTI should educate the people on the procedure to file the RTI and be more specific.
Besides all these deficiencies, the record keeping in the entire government departments is in shambles. Mir said that the poor digitization of records in all the government departments act as the wall stone for disseminating the information.
Chairman Jammu and Kashmir RTI movement, Dr Sheikh Ghulam Rasool showed some light on the struggle to pass the Act in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dr. Rasool said, “The founder of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act is Late Balraj Puri and Advocate Irfan Hafiz lone.”
He said that J&K RTI was earlier passed in 2004 but it was very week and lacked various laws and regulations. “We formed J&K RTI movement which established the Act in 2009.”
The event was held at Kashmir University by J&K RTI Movement in collaboration with Center of Central Asian Studies.
JK Assembly polls: EC observer team yet to submit its report to CEC: CEO
Srinagar, Mar 20: Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer Shailendra Kumar on Wednesday said that the three member team of election observers appointed for Jammu and Kashmir is yet to submit its report to Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and any decision on the conduct of assembly elections in the state will be taken after ECI’s consultation with the Union Home Ministry on additional security deployments for assembly polls in the state.
CEO Shailendra Kumar said, “The three member team of election observers which recently visited Jammu and Kashmir to reassess the situation for conduct of assembly elections in the state has not submitted its report to
Chief election commissioner Sunil Arora yet but will be submitted to the election commission of India very soon. A decision on holding assembly elections will be taken by election commission of India only after consultations with the union home ministry on the timing of assembly elections in the state.”
On March 14, three member team of observers appointed by the Election Commission of India arrived Srinagar to meet the political parties and “assess the feasibility” for holding the assembly elections in J&K.
Upon their arrival, the team drove to the Lalit hotel located on the upscale Gupkar Road where they will hold one-on-one meetings with the regional parties for discussing the timing and phasing of the state assembly polls.
The ECI had appointed former IAS officers Vinod Zutshi and Noor Muhammad, and former IPS officer A S Gill, as special observers to assess the feasibility of holding assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir.
According to their mandate, the observers would make a real-time assessment of the situation by meeting political parties, district and state authorities and other stakeholders, and discuss modalities for holding the assembly elections.
The ECI’s decision to not hold the assembly elections simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls in Jammu and Kashmir has sparked a massive uproar with the regional political parties like National Conference and People’s Democratic Party accusing the Centre of “eroding the democratic set-up” in the state.
However, sources in the government said it is “impossible” to hold the state assembly polls simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections given the deteriorating security situation in the aftermath of the Pulwama suicide bombing.
“For holding Lok Sabha polls for Baramulla constituency alone, we need 400 companies of central paramilitary forces. If assembly polls are held simultaneously, it will require massive deployment. We can’t compromise on security,” a top government officer said.
ERA initiates blacklisting of defaulting contractors
Srinagar, Mar 20: J&K Economic Reconstruction Agency (JKERA) has initiated the process of blacklisting/debarment of contractors who had violated various contract conditions in 12 contract packages under ADB Loan I and Loan II.
As per an official communiqué issued here, CEO ERA, Dr. Raghav Langer said that the FIDIC contract agreement conditions clearly defines every term and condition for execution of contracts and the procedure for blacklisting and debarment of defaulting contractors.
He further added that ERA has accordingly initiated the process of blacklisting and debarment of contractors, under J&K Registration of Contractor Act 1956 in case there were inordinate delays thereby depriving public of intended benefits and causing huge loss to state exchequer, structural faults, corrupt and fraudulent practices, misrepresentation, indulging in false claims under arbitration, nonperformance, abandoning of works etc.
The CEO reiterated the need for professional management of contracts and said that erring contractors of J&K ERA under previously executed Road Projects, Flyovers Project, Sewerage and Water Supply Schemes, Dewatering and Drainage Schemes in Jammu & Kashmir regions have been issued notices which shall be confirmed by adopting the due process.
The removal of name from Register under Act No. 6 of 1956 sub-clause 5 shall there by prevent them from participating in any future contracts in the State of J&K.