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Oppn members protest against Deputy Speaker, exchange heated words

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, Jan 23: Congress and NC members today protested in the State Assembly against  Deputy Speaker, Nazir Ahmed Gurezi and accused him of not giving them adequate time to speak on the grants. There were heated exchanges between some Opposition members and Deputy Speaker at a number of times also with former accusing the later of deliberately not allowing them to speak.
First it was Vikar Rasool of Congress who leveled serious charges against the Deputy Speaker during the debate on grants of R&B and protest against him in the House for some time.
As Vikar was speaking on grants, the Deputy Speaker asked him to conclude as other members have also to speak. This irritated the MLA who while turning towards Deputy Speaker in protest said “whenever you are on the chair of Speaker you never allow me to speak”.  “It appears you don’t like my speech and it does not behold good for the chair on which you are sitting”, he added.
The agitated MLA asked the Deputy Speaker to recall his time when he was sitting with them on this side and you wept once when you were not allowed to speak,. This way you have made us worried”, he added.
However, the Deputy Speaker while taking serious exception to the remarks of Vikar Rasool said that only 20 minutes have remained and every member can’t speak.
Later when Choudhary Sukhnandan was speaking on grants, Vikar again raised a point and expressed concern over failure of the Government in constructing new roads in the State. He said BJP people are claiming 80,000 crore package has come from Centre where the money has gone?
However, Deputy Speaker again reprimanded the MLA asking him that “why do you stand up from the seat every time”?
He asked the member to seek permission first for raising a point in the House.
But some opposition members also stood up from their seats in support of Congress member who included his party colleague Usman Majid, Engineer Rashid and Pawan Gupta. Rashid asked the Deputy Speaker that when he does not allow them to speak the members are compelled to stand up.
As the routine business again was resumed in the House and Deputy Speaker, asked NC’s Javed Rana to speak for two minutes. The later refused to take part in the discussion and threatened to stage a walk out in protest. He accused the Deputy Speaker of humiliating the members. The MLA also made various heated arguments with Deputy Speaker. The Deputy Speaker reprimanded the Member asking him “what are you talking and go to your seat”.
However, Rana did not budge and was about to leave the House. But he was pursued by his Party colleague Devender Rana, Congress leader, Rigzin Jora and G M Saroori. On their persuasion Rana returned to his seat but continued protest. He while pointing towards the Deputy Speaker said “you have made a fun of the House and you do not deserve to be on the chair”.
Taking serious exception to the behavior of the member the Deputy Speaker reprimanded him and said, “what is problem with you”.
However intervening Devender Rana of NC said that members be given time to speak on important grants and for this the Government is responsible. He said the opposition in advance had told the Government that the way it fixed the calendar it can’t have proper discussion and debate in the House. The Government should have called the meeting of Business Advisory Committee, he added.
Later again when Usman Majid was speaking on grants and Deputy Speaker asked him to conclude, he threatened to walk out and left his seat in protest. However the Deputy Speaker persuaded him to return and finish other points.
Earlier during the debate Vikar Rasool accused the Forest Minister, Ch Lal Singh of creating impediments in construction of Nasri to Banihal portion of National Highway by not giving the Forest clearance for last one year.
Protesting against the style of functioning of Forest Minister, he said even one percent work has not been done on this portion of the road during the last one year.
He said the tendering has been done but the company is unable to work as they are not being allowed to dump the material in the Forest area and the entire portion of National Highway falls in forest area, he added.
He said for such important projects no clearance is needed and in past Government gave clearance by keeping eyes closed seeing the importance of the project.
The MLA said only the construction has been done in this portion on the private land and work is pending due to forest clearance. Maintaining that Banihal is a jungle and the excavated material is to be dumped somewhere but the Forest Minister does not allow the dumping in the forest area when entire Banihal is a forest area.
The MLA said such a treatment is done to the PM package and a national project.
He said on October 25 last year the Forest Advisory Committee has approved the project and the same was stated in the reply to my cut motions. He said after the approval of the Committee the Ministry has to give clearance and that is still awaited.
However, the Forest Minister, Ch. Lal Singh later came to House to clarify his position and said that no clearance was pending with him. He, however, made it clear that he will not allow the dumping of material in forest land. He also threatened to bring a breach of privilege against the MLA in case he failed to prove his allegation.
Later during the debate on annual grants for PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control MLA Mendhar took a placard in his hands saying “Restore Defunct Water Supply Scheme in Sub Division Mendhar”.
In his reply the Minister of R&B and Parliamentary Affairs, Abdul Rehman Veeri said that roads are lifeline for economy. He said a landmark achievement, 542 proposals worth Rs 2842.32 crore have been sanctioned under PMGSY, which would link 595 un-connected habitations by way of construction of 2732 km of roads across the State.
Winding up the discussion on Demand of Grants for Public Works and Parliamentary Affairs Departments, the Minister said besides two ring roads costing Rs 4000 cr covering 118 kms have been approved for capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu.
Elaborating on various programmes launched by the Government, the Minister said that out of 542 works sanctioned, tenders have been invited for 521 schemes while as 335 have been allotted so far besides work on 147 projects has already started.
Veeri informed the House that another programme initiated in the State includes 427 new connectivity works (303 works of stage Ist and 124 works of stage IInd) approved at Rs 1954 crore, besides approval of 29 bridges.
He also informed the House that matter was taken up at highest level for declaration of Mughal Road and Lakhanpur Basohli Bani Bhaderwah Pul Doda roads as new National Highways. In addition to these, strong efforts for Mughal road tunnel, Chattergala tunnel and other tunnels such as Sadhna Razdan etc are being made with Central Government.
He said Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways (MoRTH) has accorded in-principle approval for declaring two roads namely Dingaamb-Challa-Udhampur road and Lakhanpur-Mahanpur-Basohli-Dunera road as National Highways. The Expression of Interest for appointing DPR consultant is under finalisation.
He also informed the House that Kargil-Zanaskar road, Srinagar-Shopian-Qazigund road and Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch road have been declared new National Highways.
On the status regarding some major roads of the State, the Minister said that DPR consultancies for Kargil and Shopian-Qazigund is at an advanced stage, DPR work on Jammu Akhnoor in progress and DPR work for Akhnoor-Poonch will be allotted soon.
He said “We are pursuing declaration of Mughal Road as highway and construction of 8.5 kms tunnel between Zaznar and Chatapani (costing nearly Rs 3500 crore) with Government of India,” he added.
The Minister said that during 2016-17, 118 projects at an estimated cost of Rs 1689.62 crore have been recommended for funding under CRF so far. Proposals for 17 languishing bridge projects at 206.17 crore has also been forwarded for sanction.
“Besides, three major projects worth Rs 309.23 crore have also been recommended to GoI under Inter State-Connectivity during current financial year,” he said.
The Minister said that NABARD has been the main source for funding rural infrastructure development projects related to roads and bridges, adding that 1323 schemes at a cost of Rs 3576.11 crore (RIDF XII to XXI) have been approved under the programme; out of which 666 schemes have been completed so far.
Stating that maintenance of National Highway-244 (Batote Kishtwar road)  has been cause of concern for Government, the Minister said that after concerted efforts of State Government, special maintenance package of over Rs 95 cr has been sanctioned by MoRTH for the road and work has been started on ground.
He also said that under Jhelum Tawi Flood Recovery Project (JTFRP) Rs 500 crore have been allotted under World Bank assistance.
Regarding the up-gradation of roads in cities and towns, the Minister said that 3124.72 kms have been macadamised in last two financial years at cost of Rs 1100 crore after massive programme of resurfacing was launched in wake of 2014 September floods.
He said that Department has requirement of nearly Rs 598 crore to complete all pending projects but annual allocation very low.”Therefore 17 bridges for Rs 206 crore have been proposed for funding to the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, GoI under Central Road Fund,” he added.

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