Massive uproar in Assembly, QH disrupted; entire Oppn walks-out

Opposition MLAs staging walk-out in the Assembly on Saturday. — Excelsior/Rakesh
Opposition MLAs staging walk-out in the Assembly on Saturday. — Excelsior/Rakesh

*Opposition boycotts House proceedings
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Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Jan 21: The Legislative Assembly was today once again rocked by protests with Opposition as well as some Ruling Party members voicing concern over post-snowfall situation in hilly areas of the State, which led to disruption of Question Hour for about half an hour and later walk-out by all NC and Congress members, who were not satisfied with the statements given in the House by two Ministers.
For about half an hour in the morning, the Question Hour couldn’t begin as Opposition as well as Ruling PDP MLAs from Kashmir were on their feet disrupting the House proceedings saying several areas were in dark for past several days due to damage caused to electric transformers, Water Supply Schemes and closure of roads. They demanded that the Government should take immediate steps to restore power and water supply and clear roads. A demand was again raised for opening of Chenani-Nashri tunnel to help stranded passengers in case of blockade of National Highway.
At least three MLAs of PDP from Kashmir also joined the Opposition members in airing their grievances saying several areas of their constituencies were in darkness as transformers damaged due to snowfall and rains have not been repaired so far. They called for immediate repair of the transformers and taking measures for restoration of the roads by clearing snow.
Former Minister and PDF MLA Hakim Mohammad Yasin said they have repeatedly been raising the issue of repair of power transformers but there was no action on part of the Government.
“If the Government didn’t want to act, they should tell us. We will stop raising the issue,” he said angrily.
NC MLA and former Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar also raised the issue of alleged power crisis during the extreme winter conditions in Kashmir valley and alleged that the Government has failed to provide uninterrupted power supply.
Former Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah was also present in the Assembly during the Question Hour.
Sagar was joined by Congress Legislature Party leader Nawang Rigzin Jora, who hit out at the Government for failing to gear up its administration to deal with the situation.
All the Opposition members stood up from their seats and protested over the issue and maintained that Government has “failed” to provide uninterrupted power supply to the people of Kashmir and Ladakh regions in this season of extreme winter conditions.
Congress MLA from Kargil Haji Asgar Ali Karbalaie said there has been no power in Kargil district for past one week.
Congress MLA from Banihal, Viqar Rasool Wani said 40 transformers of his constituency have been damaged, which has prompted the people to take to streets and blocked the National Highway. NC MLA from Mendhar Javed Rana said BJP’s `Shining India’ slogan has turned out to be hollow due to darkness in many parts of his constituency and failure of Water Supply Schemes. GM Saroori of Congress again made the demand for opening of Chenani-Nashri tunnel for emergency evacuation of stranded passengers for few days till the roads get cleared.
Several other MLAs of National Conference and Congress also raised similar problems of their constituencies.
In the absence of Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, who holds the charge of Power Development Department, Minister of State for Power, Syed Farooq Ahmed Andrabi intervened saying there are power cuts and it is due to a large gap between the demand and the supply of power.
The Opposition members then resorted to uproar and noisy scenes protesting against the “unsatisfactory” reply and walked to the entry of the Well of the House.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri intervened by saying the concern of these members is genuine and administration has been directed to look into the problems of unscheduled power cuts.
Veeri said the Government was sensitive towards the issue and many officers of the PDD were camping in the Valley to restore normalcy. He added that a direction has been issued that damaged transformers should be repaired at the earliest.
National Conference MLA Mian Altaf countered the Minister saying some transformers have not been repaired even after one and a half month.
Admitting that the PDD was resorting to some unscheduled cuts, Veeri said some of the transformers were getting damaged again and again due to excessive load.
Expressing dissatisfaction with the Government’s reply, Opposition members staged a walkout from the House.
Later Jora told reporters that the Government was “ill-prepared” to deal with the situation following heavy snowfall which has created more problems for the people due to unscheduled power cuts in Ladakh and Kashmir regions.
They have “totally failed” to provide uninterrupted power supply to the people in the said regions in these extreme cold conditions, he said, adding the Government should ensure uninterrupted power supply to the people.
Meanwhile, entire Opposition today decided to abstain from proceedings of the House in the afternoon session.
When first sitting of the House was about to end around 3 pm, NC MLA Ali Mohammad Sagar urged Speaker Kavinder Gupta to extend the House sittings and keep full day for grants of Education Ministry, which were to be debated in the second sitting.
The Opposition MLAs pointed out that yesterday also, the House proceedings continued till 11 pm and it was not possible for the members to keep sitting for such lengthy sittings.
However, as the Speaker didn’t agree to the opposition demand, the Opposition members boycotted the House proceedings in the afternoon session when grants of Education Ministry were debated and passed minus Opposition. Only Engineer Rashid from the Opposition attended the House.