Ruckus in Upper House, Oppn stages walk-out after clash with PDP members

Gopal Sharma
JAMMU, Jan 20: Entire opposition today staged walk-out from the Upper House after clash with the PDP members,  seeking probe by Crime Branch of  State Police in the alleged  Solar lights distribution scandal in the Science and Technology department .
The State Legislative Council witnessed ruckus during `Question Hour’  when Minister for Social Welfare and Science and Technology, Sajjad Gani Lone was responding to a question of  Congress member Naresh Gupta, followed by subsequent supplementary questions raised by NC members Dr Bashir Ahmed Veeri, Sajjad Ahmed  Kichloo and others.
The issue pertained to the distribution of about 46, 890  Solar lights in the State, especially in districts of Doda, Ramban, Kishtwar, Udhampur, Rajouri, Poonch, Reasi, Badgam, Shopian, Kulgam, Bandipora and Kupwara. The Minister incharge, Sajjad Gani Lone was responding.  He gave details about the number of solar home lights  and solar  street lights provided in each district.  He also gave details about the number of  solar lights provided in the houses in Bhaderwah constituency and Bhalessa area.
MLC Naresh Gupta  alleged that reply given by the Minister was totally “misleading and incorrect”. He said as claimed by the Minister, the lights have not been provided in the area.  It has also been mentioned by the Minister that  no Solar lights have been purchased by JAKEDA under CDF/MPLAD funds from January 2014 to November 2016, then why at many places in  Bhaderwah constituency, name of the local representative has been  mentioned  at many street lights/ home lights. He said how they can claim `provided by legislator’ when the facility is being  provided by the Central Government under a Scheme. He also sought action and  response from the Government.
The Congress member alleged  ‘Banderbant” ( unfair distribution) at many places and alleged that only political workers of  particular party were given  favour. He alleged that it was big scandal in this department and even BDO was asked to prepare the lists of their favourities when he has no role in it.  He demanded that Crime Branch should be directed to hold a thorough probe into it.
Gupta also referred to an RTI reply of the department and said that there are lot of contradictions between this reply in House and that given to the RTI activist by the officers of the same department.  He alleged that Minister was also shielding the accused officials and is trying to gag the voice of the opposition by raising loud voice and snubbing them.
Dr Bashir Ahmed  Veeri said for the last two and half years, the Government failed to distribute the lights properly. The Government has failed to distribute the same in Anantnag and Pulwama as well. He sought white paper on the issue.
Sajjad Kichloo alleged that this sanction belonged to the year 2012 when he was Minister  and he had managed to get this sanction from Delhi for the State. He also said that it was not purchased during election as being projected by the Minister.
As the opposition members pressed for fair response from the Minister, the opposition PDP members Surinder Choudhary and Firdous Tak stood up  and  raised allegations against the NC members. All the opposition members including Jugal Kishore Sharma, Ali Mohd Dar, Ghulam Nabi Monga, Dr Shehnaz Ganai, Qaiser Jamshed Lone, Showkat Ganai, Master Noor Hussain, Sham Lal Bhagat,  Rani Gargi Billoria   stood up and lodged strong protest.
They also raised counter allegations and demanding probe by the Crime Branch into the matter. They pleaded the chair that  attitude of the members of the treasury benches was not fair. The process of heated exchanges continued for some time. Chairman Anayat  Ali  and  Minister for Agriculture Production  Ghulam Nabi Lone tried to intervene and restore order in the House, but they failed in their efforts. The agitating members alleged that they were not satisfied by the reply of the Minister and moreover, attitude of the members of the treasury  benches was most unfair. After staging protest for some time, they staged walk out from the House.
Earlier, replying to the main question, the Minister said that JAKEDA under Science & Technology Department   has not processed any project / DPR for solar energy under PPP mode. However, under Grid Connected Rooftop Solar, a target of 450 MW ending financial year 2022 has been fixed in respect of J&K, out of which 54 MW are to be achieved during the years 2016-17/ 2017-18.
He further disclosed that against the sanctioned target of 44483 number of home solar lights and 2408 solar street lights   system, JAKEDA has distributed 33574 SHLs  1800 SSLs in Jammu  and Kashmir provinces , between January 2014 and  November 30, 2016. He said the distribution of remaining lights was under progress. He claimed that against the target of 274 number of  SSLs and 2132 SHLs for district Doda, 224 SSLs  and 1573 SHLs have been distributed in Bhaderwah and Bhalessa area.  In addition, JAKEDA has installed Solar power plants in all the 121 Community Information Centres.