Noisy scenes in Assembly over RDD Minister’s working

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, Jan 19: Noisy scenes, allegations and counter allegations were witnessed in State Assembly today with some Congress and NC legislators making scathing attack on Minister of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj and Law Abdul Haq Khan and demanded that he should be shifted from the Ministry as he will ruin the RDD completely.
There were heated exchanges between ruling coalition and opposition members several times during the debate and both sides leveled allegations and counter allegations on each other.
The House witnessed noisy scenes several times when NC’s Mohammed Akbar Lone in his address on grants targeted the Minister for alleged corruption in Department and also highlighted various shortcomings.
This provoked PDP MLA Shah Mohammad Tantray, who countered  the NC leader. Supporting him, Dilip Parihar of BJP also retorted on Lone.
Parihar asked that what the NC coalition  has done during its rule and both he and Khan entered into heated exchanges with Lone.
The NC MLA, however did not budge and countered them by targeting both of them. While asking BJP MLA that his Party should be ashamed of its conduct, he also told PDP MLA that “go to the pastures as this is not pasture here”.
The PDP and BJP MLAs were on their toes to take on Lone but they were asked by the senior colleagues of their Party including Deputy Chief Minister to take their seat and allow the House to function.
Earlier Congress MLA G M Saroori also criticized the Minister and the functioning of Rural Development Department and leveled the allegations of rampant corruption and favoritism in the Department especially in Kishtwar district and his Inderwal Constituency. He also pointed out various shortcomings in Swachh Bharat Abiyan and made some allegations against the MoS, RDD Incharge Transport, Sunil Sharma. He said an accountant in his area takes 30 percent commission which is a open case of corruption and a probe should be hold against him through Crime Branch. He also questioned the working of Director RDD.
However, to counter him BJP MLAs Shakti Parihar, Dilip Parihar and Neelam Langeh shouted him down.
Later when the debate was over and Minister was about to give reply his junior colleague, Sunil Sharma clarified the allegations leveled by Saroori and said that whatever decision regarding transfers etc was taken by him it was to make the functioning of the Department smooth and place suitable persons on suitable posts as some junior officials were working on senior posts.
He said the Government is working to run system with complete transparency and we will not allow any wrong doing in the Department.
Later Saroori again  made counter allegations against  the Minister. He was countered by  majority of BJP and PDP members, who   shouted him down. The other Congress members were also on their toes in support of Saroori and they countered BJP and PDP members. There was uproar in the House for some time as both sides were engaged in allegations and counter allegations.
Deputy Speaker, Nazir Ahmed Gurezi expunged these words from the records as Deputy CM, Dr Nirmal Singh also appealed the House that the remarks made by the Congress MLA be expunged from records.
The Government also faced opposition from BJP MLA, Rajiv  Sharma who alleged that discrimination still prevailed against the Jammu region.
Pointing out glaring cases of discrimination with the region, he said in 2014-15, 12078 cases under IAY were sanctioned for Kashmir region while 5167 for Jammu while in 2015-16 a total number of 13121 cases under the same scheme were sanctioned for Kashmir valley and 2576 for Jammu region. In 2016-17 a total number of 13235 cases under IAY were sanctioned for Kashmir valley and 8607 for Jammu region.
The MLA while quoting a written reply given to his party college’s question today said there were on 988 water supply tube wells in Jammu while their number is 19,042 in Kashmir.
Terming it a grave discrimination the MLA said the coalition has promised to end the regional discrimination and BJP was also voted for the same and if this will continue what answer we can give to masses, he asked?
Earlier House also witnessed noisy scenes when NC and Congress members criticized Haq Khan after he tried to clarify a point raised by MLA Pahalgam, Altaf Ahmed Kaloo when the later said that Minister did not call him and other MLAs during holding a meeting in his district.  The Minister while clarifying said that during that time there was unrest in the Valley and people were raising slogans so he thought to take the meeting with Departmental officers as how to go ahead with developmental process in the area.
The Opposition MLAs, however, took serious exception to Minister’s statement and Akbar Lone of NC said that Minster was covering the corrupt practice in the Department. They were counted by some PDP and BJP MLAs also and both sides made heated exchanges.
Akbar Lone also demanded that the Minister be stripped off the portfolio. The MLA Pahalgam also protested and accused the Minister of leveling allegations on Opposition parties. Later Haq stood up to clarify and said he never meant what the members said and “if they are hurt I take my words back”.
Earlier criticizing the Minister and his style of functioning the Congress MLA Abdul Rashid said that he has been assigned a wrong Department as he has ruined this Department completely and he should not be given the charge of this Department. He alleged that in last two years 10 BDOs were transferred from his Constituency. He said if he was proved  wrong, he will quit.
He said one BDO was transferred only after serving the area for one day and another was transferred after three days. It indicates that the money is main consideration so the BDOs are transferred frequently, he added.
However in his reply the Minister Abdul Haq Khan made it clear that he will not tolerate non performing officers against whom the complaints come to him from the people. He said the transparency will be the hall mark of his Ministry as his main objective and aim is to strengthen the system.
The Minister assured MLA Sopore that he will look into the issues raised by him. He also ruled out that any attempt has been made on his part to diminish the role of Legislators and made it clear that he wanted that every MLA should participate in the development process.
He said “we are trying to make connectivity to secluded areas” and assets for the Department.
Justifying the Government decision of electing Sarpanches through Panchs, Haq Khan said this way the Panchayat system will be made more transparent and powerful. He said Sarpanchs had made monopoly in Panchayats and Panchs were complaining that they are ignoring them in development process and doing monopoly. The new system will have a check on the same and Sarpanchs will become accountable as the main objective is to strengthen the system.
He said in new form the role of Panchayats will increase. The funds will now go directly to Panchayats and RDD will have no role in it.
Allaying members fares on delimitation of Panchayats, he said there will be no role of Government in it as we gave powers to Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) in this regard and once the EC is involved they do their job honestly.
The Minister said under Umeed scheme instead of 22 blocks now 25 were included. He also informed the House that the Law Commission was under process as outdated books were of no use. He also announced that the coalition government is going to set up Panchayat Adalats and Government is trying to evolve a consensus to decide MLAs role in three tier Panchayat system.
Haq said till December 2016, the department has constructed 446 foot bridges, 369 culverts,  102 play fields, 884 farm ponds, 411 Vermi-Compost pits, 56319 Individual Household Latrines (IHHL), 159 Anganwadi centres, 319 Flood Protection Works  besides, road-side plantation along 35 kilometers.
He said there are 9.13 lakh active job cards out of which 6.66 lakh job cards have been verified while process is on to verify remaining cards and will be completed by the end of this month.  Presently there are 18841 works for construction of roads under execution in the State out of which 7776 have been completed resulting in creation of 884 kilometers of road length, the Minister said.