*PR Ordinance being re-promulgated for elections
JAMMU, Feb 12: State Cabinet, which is meeting tomorrow evening under the chairmanship of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, will discuss several important issues whose fate was hanging in balance during the past quite long time. These issues include finalization of Jammu Master Plan, re-promulgation of Panchayati Raj Ordinance, extension of Power Amnesty Scheme, formulation of fresh Standard Operating Proced-ure (SOP) on Cross-LoC trade and appointment of new Director Vigilance in Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Organization.
Highly placed official sources told EXCELSIOR that Cabinet will meet at Civil Secretariat at 5 pm tomorrow to take decision on huge administrative agenda pertaining to several departments. Even proposals regarding transfers and postings in the police and civil administration will come up for deliberations and if consensus emerged the same will be cleared.
They informed that Cabinet will hold deliberations on Jammu Master Plan, whose fate is hanging in balance during the past quite long time despite completion of all the necessary formalities including deliberations with all the stakeholders and incorporation of suggestions and recommendations.
The process of formulation of revised Master Plan for Jammu was set into motion in early 2015 in order to ensure planned development of winter capital of the State. However, dilly-dallying approach continued from all the concerned authorities which prompted the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to explicitly direct the Housing and Urban Development Department to gear-up the exercise.
The formulation of new Master Plan had become imperative because of several drawbacks in the Master Plan-2021, which is presently in vogue. “If approved by the Cabinet, the implementation of new Master Plan will begin following its proper notification as required under Jammu and Kashmir Development Act”, sources said.
They informed that Cabinet will accord approval to the re-promulgation of Panchayati Raj Ordinance so as to pave the way for holding of Panchayat elections under the control of Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), J&K in the absence of State Election Commission.
This Ordinance was earlier promulgated by the Governor N N Vohra whereby powers were vested to the CEO for holding elections to Panchayats and re-organization of constituencies, reservations and rotation of wards and completion of other formalities.
“To replace the Ordinance, the Government had proposed to bring legislation in the Assembly but it could not get the Cabinet nod as the meeting had to be deferred on January 31, 2017 and subsequently the Legislature had to be abruptly adjourned”, sources said, “as the elections are proposed to be conducted next month the Government has no other option but to re-promulgate the Panchayati Raj Ordinance”.
According to the sources, the proposal of the Power Development Department headed by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh regarding extension of Power Amnesty Scheme will also come up for discussion in the Cabinet.
“This is being done to cover those people who could not obtain benefit of Scheme before its completion on March 31, 2016”, they said, adding “the extension of Scheme will not only provide benefit to the defaulting power consumers but will also generate revenue for the Power Development Depart-ment”.
Sources further informed that Cabinet will also hold deliberations on the proposal regarding re-drafting of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for Cross-LoC trade between India and Pakistan through Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch district and Uri in Baramulla district.
“This has become imperative in view of several loop-holes in the existing mechanism which are resulting into misuse of this Confidence Building Measure (CBM)”, they said, adding “the loop-holes were also detected by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) in the month of December last year when the Agency conducted raids at Trade Facilitation Centres (TFCs) at Chakan-da-Bagh and Uri”.
It came to the fore during the NIA raids that some of the traders were misusing barter facility to pump money to fuel militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. “It was noticed by the NIA that some of the traders were getting extra goods from Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir and part of the money generated from them was being pumped into militancy in this State”, sources said.
“Moreover, there are certain issues relating to registration of traders for Cross-LoC trade and J&K Government wants to plug all the loop-holes so that this CBM is not misused from either side”, they further said, adding “if cleared by the Cabinet the recommendations will be forwarded to the Union Government for incorporation in the Standard Operating Procedure”.
According to the sources, the Cabinet will also clear name of an IPS officer amongst the panel submitted by the Home and General Administration Departments regarding appointment of new Director Vigilance in Jammu and Kashmir State Vigilance Organization.
“The post of Director Vigilance is lying vacant since middle of 2015 as no serious efforts were made to fill-up this important post”, they said. At present, the charge of the post of Director Vigilance is being held by Inspector General of Police Vigilance Organization.
It is pertinent to mention here that the issue regarding delay in appointment of Director Vigilance also figured during the just concluded Budget Session of State Legislature and it was informed by the Government that appointment of new Director was under active consideration.
According to the sources, the Cabinet will also discuss the recommendations of Cabinet Sub-Committee on controversial SRO-105 of Industries and Commerce Department which had created storm in the State Legislature during the Budget Session held at Srinagar in June 2016.
A House Committee was constituted on the SRO following protests in the Assembly and the 14-member panel headed by National Conference Legislator Mohammad Akbar Lone had mentioned in the report that the SRO was violative of all laws protecting interests of the State Subjects. According to the House Committee, the SRO deprives the permanent residents of the State of their rights and throws open mine-mineral concessions within the State to non-permanent residents.
After the House Committee presented its report, the Government constituted Cabinet Sub-Committee headed by Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu and its report will come up for deliberations in Cabinet meeting tomorrow.
The Cabinet will also put seal of approval on establishment of four more Tourism Development Authorities in Jammu and Kashmir, the announcement regarding which was made quite long time back.
“Though the Tourism Department has already ordered establishment of these Tourism Development Authorities but approval of the Cabinet is must and the same will be given tomorrow”, sources said.
These Tourism Development Authorities are Shopian-Peer-ki-Gali Development Authority, Basohli-Bani Development Authority, Tosa Maidan Development Authority and Nubra Development Authority in Ladakh. With the creation of these TDAs, the total number of such Authorities will go up to 24 and will help in equipping more places with latest infrastructural edifice for development as attractive and alluring tourist destinations.