*Speaker expresses concern over BDOs’ style of working
JAMMU, Jan 12: In a major embarrassment for the Coalition Government, the MLAs of Opposition parties as well as ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) today cornered the Minister for Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, Abdul Haq Khan in the Legislative Assembly over poor functioning of the department. Even the Speaker, Kavinder Gupta expressed serious concern over the style of working of Block Development Officers (BDOs) and said that they are not taking elected representatives of the people into confidence while planning and executing developmental works.
The cornering of the Rural Development Minister started as soon as he finished his reply to the question of BJP MLA from Bani Jewan Lal mentioning that 2nd and 3rd instalments of 23502 cases sanctioned under Indira Awas Yojana (presently named as Prime Minister Awas Yojana) during the financial year 2014-15 and 2015-16 have not been released till date.
“This is grave injustice with the poor people”, remarked Congress MLA from Inderwal, Ghulam Mohammad Saroori, adding “how can this Government justify delay of two years in release of 2nd and 3rd instalments under IAY/PMAY scheme”.
Stating that there is complete mess in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayati Raj, the Congress MLA and former Minister demanded that a House Committee should be constituted to review the functioning of this department, which is directly connected with the masses in rural areas. He was supported by almost all the members of the Congress and National Conference, who too started demanding House Committee.
Some of the Opposition MLAs alleged that Block Development Officers (BDOs) have the habit of not consulting the elected representatives and taking them into confidence while planning and executing developmental works in rural areas of the State. Even the BJP MLAs Dr Gagan Bhagat, Shakti Parihar and Neelam Langeh joined the Opposition in questioning the functioning of Rural Development Department and non-cooperative attitude of the Block Development Officers.
They received shot in the arm when Speaker, Kavinder Gupta too expressed concern over the style of working of BDOs and said, “BDOs are not consulting MLAs and the Minister should take serious note of it”. On this, the demand for framing House Committee to review the functioning of Rural Development Department grew louder.
However, while trying to pacify the agitating MLAs, the Rural Development Minister said, “MLAs have limited role as Panchayats are supposed to monitor the developmental activities in rural areas”. This infuriated all the Opposition and ruling BJP members, who created uproar over the remarks of the Minister.
This compelled the Minister to change his statement and he said, “I have issued directions to the officers to consult MLAs especially when Panchayats are not in place”. On this Speaker again remarked, “the concern of almost all the MLAs clearly indicates that all is not well in this vital department as such Minister should told officers of the department in explicit terms to hold proper consultations with the MLAs in planning and executing developmental works”.
BJP MLA from Doda, Shakti Parihar brought to the notice of the Speaker that an amount of Rs 20 lakh has been fraudulently withdrawn in one of the blocks of his constituency and demanded that Minister should be directed for holding proper inquiry. The Congress MLAs from Kargil and Nobra, Asgar Ali Karbalaie and Deldan Namgyal said that Rural Development Department was discriminating with their constituencies as several posts of BDOs have been lying vacant since long.
They drew the attention of the House towards the reply furnished to the question of Congress MLA from Leh, Nawang Rigzin Jora wherein the Minister has admitted that there are 59 vacancies of BDOs in Kashmir division and 31 vacancies in Jammu division. The Minister said that 79 posts of BDOs falling under direct recruitment quota have been referred to the General Administration Department for filling up of the same from Junior Scale KAS officers.
The uproar over the poor functioning of the Rural Development Department, non-availability of BDOs, their style of working and inordinate delay in release of 2nd and 3rd instalments under IAY/PMAY came to end after Speaker Kavinder Gupta informed the MLAs that explicit directions have been issued to the Minister for taking all these issues seriously for redressal in a time-bound manner.