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RTI Act not being implemented in true spirit: SIC

Bisma Bhat

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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.


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Kashmir

In 3 yrs, GoI paid Rs 12 lakh rent for over 30K kanals under ‘defence’ in Srinagar

MoS Defence says ‘only 47 kanals’ held by defence establishments in Shopian

Nisar Dharma

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New Delhi, Jul 17: The Defence Ministry Wednesday made an interesting disclosure while giving out the figures about the total acres of land held by various defence establishments in J&K.

In a written reply to the question posed in the Lok Sabha by National Conference’s MP Hasnain Masoodi, MoS Defence Shripad Naik said that 56,615.54 acres (4.53 lakh kanals) of land was with different defence wings and organisations operational in J&K.

Giving a district-wise breakup, the reply stated that 3757.8 acres (over 30,000 kanals) of land was held by defence establishments in Srinagar.

 

Interestingly, for the huge area occupied in the summer capital, only Rs 12.17 lakh has been paid in rent during the last three years while Rs 2.02 lakh is shown outstanding.

The Defence Ministry figures show the district getting a rent of Rs 4.05 lakh per year from 2016-17 to 2018-19.

More shocking is the case of Shopian, one of the most heavily guarded districts in south of Kashmir with a huge security buildup.

In the district, the Defence Ministry reply claims only 5.94 acres (47 kanals) of land is under defence establishments for which Rs 79,203 of rent has been paid for the last three years while as Rs 13,200 is outstanding.

In districts Leh and Kargil, 5788 acres of land (46,000 kanal), as per the reply, is under defence establishments and the rent paid and outstanding is Rs 5.66 crore and Rs 77.42 lakh respectively.

The most land held by defence establishments is in Jammu district. As per the reply, 18935.4 acres of land is under defence in the district for which Rs 42.13 crore has been paid in rent for years 2016-17 to 2018-19, while Rs 7.65 crore is still outstanding.

Overall in the state, Rs 134.45 crore had been paid in rent to land owners and the state government in the last three years. Rs 24.48 crore is shown as outstanding rent during the period.

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Anganwadi workers, helpers continue protests against SAC decision

Kashmir News Service

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Srinagar, Jul 17 : The Anganwadi workers and helpers working under the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) Scheme continued their protests against the State Administrative Council’s (SAC) decision to disburse their honorariums through Gram Panchayats.

Hundreds of workers under the banner of All Jammu and Kashmir Anganwadi Workers and Helpers Association, raising slogans against the SAC decision demanded its immediate roll-back. They said disbursing honorarium through Gram Panchayats can pave way for corruption and harassment of the workers and helpers.

“We not only demand roll back of this arbitrary decision but also making the ICDS permanent and increase in budgetary allocation for the ICDS. The government must also pay minimum wages, social security and pension to us as recommended by 45th ILC,” the protesting workers demanded.

 

They said that they will fight against the government move to privatize the ICDS in any form and involvement of corporate companies or NGOs in the ICDS. “We also demand strengthening of ICDS, converting Anganwadis into Anganwadi-cum-crèches, increase in allocation for nutrition and strengthening and retaining the pre-schoold education in ICDS,” the workers demanded.

The protesters said the supervision of Anganwari centers are done by the ICDS department and they don’t object the Coordination with Panchayati Raj Institutions in running the Anganwari centers.

“But the panchayats must provide resources to the Anganwari centre like it is being done in Kerala, where they provide additional food, milk, eggs toys, uniforms etc for children. But here, instead of following that model, only monitoring part has been given to panchayats. The salary to the Anganwari staff will be released only after the certification of the panchayats which can lead to corruption and harassment of the workers and helpers. This was tried in many states and the decision was taken back there after it failed,” they said.

The protesting workers said, “If the panchayats have to monitor why don’t they monitor all services and link the salary of all government employees to panchayat certification? We have been handed over to Panchs and Sarpanchs which is unacceptable to us. We are working with the ICDS for the last 40- years with honor and dignity. We want our department to take care of our salaries. The decision was aimed to humiliate us.” “We have worked for the State, but it is unfortunate that we are being neglected by the government now.” The protest rally was addressed by Haneefa, Lateefa, Misra, Mubeena, Hajira, Zona, Haleema, Daisy and Meema, Aganwadi leaders.

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PDP holds crucial meeting of its south Kashmir leadership

Monitor News Bureau

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Srinagar, Jul 17: A high level meeting of the People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) leadership from south Kashmir was held at the party head office here in which various crucial issues confronting the state at present was discussed in detail.

Chaired by Party Vice President Abdul Rahman Veeri, the meeting deliberated over various measures that the party has taken in the recent past to widen its reach and make masses aware about its agenda and mission.

Veeri in his address stressed upon the leadership to hold constant contact with the general public and highlight the issues they face on day to day basis and seek their resolution on priority from the concerned quarters.

 

Veeri expressed full confidence that the PDP will bounce back in a revitalised form on the state’s political scene and that the party will continue to push for peace with dignity which is the focal point of its agenda. He said that the workers are committed to the agenda of the party and the vision provided by its founder Mufti Mohammad Sayeed who founded the party in the very trying circumstances.

PDP General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Lone Hanjura while addressing the meeting stated that the party will continue to pursue it till durable peace is restored and that will never barter interests of the state against petty political gains.

Veteran PDP leader, Mohammad Sartaj Madni in his address stated that the need of the hour is that the party leadership, functionaries, activists and supporters must work in close coordination and make sustainable efforts in party’s overall growth and impressive performance in the coming time.

The participants of the meeting expressed full confidence in the leadership of the PDP President Mehbooba Mufti, resolving in unison to support her each and every endeavour aimed at getting the people out of the cycle of uncertainty and lead the state towards a prosperous future.

Other senior PDP leaders who attended the meet include Dr Mehboob Beg, PDP’s Srinagar District President Mohammad Khurshid Alam, former legislator and state secretary Noor Mohammad Sheikh, Abdul Ghaffar Sofi, Abdul Rahim Rather, Zahoor Ahmad Mir, Mohammad Yousuf Bhat, Abdul Majeed Padder, Aijaz Ahmad Mir, Zaffar A Manhas, Mushtaq Ahmad Shah, Syed Farooq Andrabi, Syed Javaid Advocate, Gulzar Ahmad, Abdul Razaq and Ghulam Mohi-ud-din Sheikh.

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