Govt dilly-dallying on making Metropolitan Region Development Authorities functional

Div Coms fail to accomplish task assigned by H&UDD

No decision taken on appointment of CEOs, other staff

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Feb 11: Though nearly two months have lapsed since the enactment of Act by the Governor Satya Pal Malik yet the Government has not set into motion process for making Jammu and Srinagar Metropolitan Region Development Authorities functional. The intensity of dilly-dallying approach can be gauged from the fact that even areas to be brought under these Authorities have not been identified till date.
On December 16, 2018, the Governor Satya Pal Malik enacted the Jammu and Kashmir Metropolitan Region Development Authorities Act in exercise of the powers vested under Proclamation No.P-1/18 dated June 20, 2018.
It was officially stated at that time that these Metropolitan Region Development Authorities will play crucial role in co-ordinating and supervising the proper, orderly and rapid development in the areas in such Regions and execute plans, projects and schemes for such development.
The foremost step towards the implementation of the Act was to notify the areas to be brought under these Metropolitan Region Development Authorities and simultaneously making appointment of Chief Executive Officers (CEO) and other staff in order to make these Authorities functional.
However, despite lapse of nearly two months no exercise has been conducted for making these Development Authorities functional, official sources told EXCELSIOR while disclosing that even Metropolitan Regions have not been notified by the Housing and Urban Development Department till date.
They disclosed that vide Communication No.HUD-133 dated January 15, 2019 the Housing and Urban Development Department had directed the Divisional Commissioners of Kashmir and Jammu to propose areas to be brought under the Metropolitan Regions of Jammu and Srinagar by or before January 28, 2019.
However, the Divisional Commissioners failed to accomplish the task within the specified time-frame. This can be gauged from the communication dated February 8, 2019 of the Housing and Urban Development Department to the Divisional Commissioners of Jammu and Kashmir which read: “Please refer the department’s earlier Communication No.HUD-133. The desired information is still awaited from your end. Accordingly, you are requested to send the requisite information by or before January 15, 2019 positively”.
“Unless the areas to be brought under Metropolitan Regions are identified and notified the Authorities cannot be made functional as this is the foremost and vital exercise”, an officer of the Housing and Urban Development Department said when contacted.
Moreover, no exercise has been set into motion for appointment of Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of Metropolitan Region Development Authorities although officers fulfilling the eligible criteria are easily available in the State.
The Section 13 of the Act state: The Government shall appoint a Chief Executive Officer for the Authority who shall be an officer not below the rank of the Principal Secretary to the Government. Moreover, the Government may, on a request being made by the Executive Committee, appoint one or more Additional/Deputy/Assistant Chief Executive Officers who shall be officers not below the rank of Secretary/Special Secretary/Additional Secretary to the Government.
The importance of the Authorities can be gauged from the powers and functions defined in the Act, which states that Authorities shall secure the development of the Metropolitan Regions according to the development plan.
The Authorities shall review any physical, financial and economic plan; review any project or scheme for development which may be proposed or may be in the course of execution or may be completed in the Metropolitan Region; prepare schemes and advise the concerned authorities in formulating and undertaking schemes for development of socio, economic and industrial infrastructure in the Metropolitan Region, the Act read.
Moreover, sufficient powers have been vested in the Authorities for assisting the officers in preparation of Master Plan, Zonal Plan or Town Planning Scheme under the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Development Act, 1970 and Jammu and Kashmir State Town Planning Act, 1963. The role of Metropolitan Development Authorities in Mobility Management Plan has also been defined in the Act.
“All these objectives behind the enactment of the Act by the Governor would be achieved only when Government makes the Metropolitan Development Authorities functional as early as possible”, sources said.