*Slackness persists despite assurance of assistance by MHA
JAMMU, Jan 23: In a testimony of callous approach, the PDP-BJP Coalition Government has yet not implemented the Central Scheme whereby compensation to the victims of cross-border firing and mine/IED blasts has been enhanced from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh. The slackness is persisting despite the fact that Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has already assured timely assistance in this regard so as to avoid any financial burden on the State Government.
Official sources told EXCELSIOR that Union Cabinet in a meeting held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on August 24, 2016 gave approval to the enhancement of compensation to the civilian victims under the scheme titled “Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist/Communal/Left Wing Extremist Violence, Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts on Indian Territory” from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh.
“Now onwards, any civilian who dies anywhere in the country due to terror attacks, Left Wing Extremist violence, firing from across the border, shelling or IED explosion will be given Rs 5 lakh as compensation uniformly. The amount will be given to the next of kin of the victims”, reads the decision of the Union Government.
It was specifically mentioned in the decision that Rs 5 lakh will also be given to those who receive 50 per cent or more disability or incapacitation due to the same reasons and the compensation amount will be given subject to the condition that no employment has been provided to any of the family members of the victims by State or Central Government.
Before this decision by the Union Government, the next of kin of persons killed or civilians who suffered permanent incapacitation were getting Rs 3 lakh compensation as per the provisions of the “Central Scheme for Assistance to Civilian Victims of Terrorist, Communal and Left Wing Extremist Violence, Cross Border Firing and Mine/IED blasts”, which was launched in 2008.
The issue of financial assistance to the people killed in cross border firing was raised before the Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir on October 23, 2014 and for the first time in 70 years since independence the Union Government analyzed the plight of population residing in border areas as they suffer due to frequent violations of ceasefire by the Pakistan Rangers and Army.
Accordingly, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs prepared a formal proposal and the same received the nod of the Union Cabinet in August 2016.
However, despite lapse of five months the PDP-BJP Coalition Government has yet not issued formal orders for implementation of this scheme. This was admitted by none else than the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is also Minister Incharge Home Department in the Legislative Assembly while responding to the question of National Conference MLA from Mendhar Javaid Ahmad Rana.
“Under the scheme of the Union Government, an amount of Rs 5 lakh is to be provided to the affected families for each death or permanent incapacitation as per laid down procedure”, she said while admitting that scheme is yet to be implemented in Jammu and Kashmir. “The scheme is under process for its adoption in the State of J&K”, the Chief Minister said without divulging the reasons behind delay in issuance of orders vis-à-vis implementation of scheme during the past five months.
According to the sources, the slackness in implementation of scheme is notwithstanding the fact that Union Ministry of Home Affairs has already assured to reimburse the expenditure in this regard. “Till date no formal instructions have been issued to Deputy Commissioners, who as per the provisions of the Central Scheme have an important role to play”, they added.
As per the procedure prescribed by the MHA, a District Level Committee under the chairmanship of District Magistrate/Deputy Commissioner and having District Superintendent of Police, District Medical Officer, District Social Welfare Officer, District Child and Women Development Officer and an officer nominated by the State Government is required to identify the beneficiaries and verify their eligibility for assistance under the scheme.
It is worthwhile to mention here that Dr Jitendra Singh, Member of Parliament from Kathua-Udhampur-Doda Parliamentary Constituency and Union Minister of State in PMO, who was strong votary of enhancing compensation from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh for the victims of cross-border firing, regularly chased the issue with the Ministry of Home Affairs and his efforts yielded results in August last year when the Union Cabinet gave nod to the proposal of MHA.
About the construction of concrete bunkers for the civilians residing in the border villages, the Chief Minister informed the Legislative Assembly that a proposal for construction of as many as 20125 community type bunkers at various places along the International Border/Line of Control was submitted to the Union Ministry of Home Affairs in the month of February 2015 for an amount of Rs 1006.25 crore.
However, the MHA has approved construction of 60 concrete bunkers in the border blocks of Jammu district for an amount of Rs 3 crore as Pilot Project, Mehbooba Mufti said, adding “the construction work is in progress and up to ending December 2016, an amount of Rs 176.87 lakh was spent”.
Moreover, 35 bunkers have also been constructed under Border Area Development Programme (BADP) 2015-16 in the border areas of Jammu district, the Chief Minister said.