15000 self-employed Enggs may lose job in J&K

UT Admn decides to abolish SHGs, their work quota

Gopal Sharma

JAMMU, Aug 12: Inspite of providing jobs to the thousands of unemployed Engineers, with the most surprising decision of the J&K UT Administration of abolishing Self Help Groups (SHGs) of engineers and their work quota of 30%, over 15000 young unemployed Engineers earning their bread and butter by working through Self Help Groups in various departments like R&B, PMGSY, PHE, PDD, REW etc will lose their job.
The Government of Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir under Lt Governor Manoj Sinha vide order No. 752-JK(GAD) of 2020, dated 10-08-2020 decided to abolish quota of the Self Help Groups of unemployed engineers in J&K UT besides merger of various engineering wings in the Public Works Department/ Jal Shakti with effect from December Ist, 2020. For this purpose, different committees under Administrative Secretary, Public Works (R&B) have also been constituted. The order has dropped hint at the discontinuation of the JKPCC.
This anti-youth decision of the UT Administration sparked strong protests in Srinagar today and sharp reaction from many political leaders and social activists. The agitation is likely to spread in Jammu and various other districts as well within next few days.
Official sources told the Excelsior that about 2500 Self Help Groups of Engineers from various streams like Civil, Mechanical, Electrical, Structural, Electronics and Communications, Computer Sciences, Bio Medical Engineering etc are working through these groups and contributing for nation building since 2004 when Mufti Mohd Sayeed was the Chief Minister. During that period over 5000 Engineering Graduates and Diploma holders were on agitation at Srinagar and Jammu. They were demanding Government jobs.
During long agitation, the then Chief Minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed himself visited the unemployed Engineers at dharna site at Mubarak Mandi complex in Jammu and promised to provide them some alternative as there were not many jobs with the Govt. Mufti then launched the SHG Scheme for these unemployed engineers so as to tap their potential and skills and offered them to share work with the contractors by raising registered firms with District Industries Centers (DICs) and seeking registration cards from the J&K Labour and Employment department.
Sources further revealed that 20 % work quota was fixed in various departments for these SHGs initially while it was raised to 30% during 2017 by the then Mehbooba Mufti Government. It was resolved that there will be minimum 5 and maximum 10 engineers in each SHG. An amendment was also made by including Bio-Medical Engineering Graduates / Post- graduates for handling works in Hospitals and other Medical Institutions during PDP-BJP Government.
But this abrupt decision of the UT Administration, has shocked the families of these hapless engineers who are working for the last about 16 years. They have set up their offices and even hired the services of private accountants, computer operators and even the office boys/ peons etc. Their bread and butter is also connected with such SHGs. They will also be badly affected with this anti-youth and anti-worker decision of the Administration.
Chief Engineer R&B Jammu, Ashok Kumar Kikloo when contacted said there are 21 R&B Divisions in Jammu province. Each Division has such groups. There are average 5-10 people in each group. He has asked all the Executive Engineers to provide the number of such SHGs existing in each Division. They are also in other departments like PHE, Irrigation, Flood Control, PDD etc. He claimed that exercise has started to get the details and by tomorrow, the data will be compiled. He said there were certain complaints that some SHGs were sub-letting the works to other contractors and not doing works themselves while many groups had turned defunct.
Showkat Jeelani, Chief Engineer R&B, Kashmir said after receiving directions from the Administrative department, an exercise has been started to collect the data of these SHGs, number of works allotted and the amount of works. The concerned Executive Engineers of 26 R&B Divisions in Kashmir have started their work. Due to holiday today, the data could not be compiled but by tomorrow, the figures would be collected, he maintained.
Sayeed Parvez Hussain, president Self Help Groups of Engineers Association, J&K, when contacted said this is most shocking and surprising decision of the J&K Government. This is the question of bread and butter of not only over 15000 unemployed engineers but also their families as well. He said more than one lakh people will be affected with this “anti-people decision”. The SHGs have raised their offices as per guidelines. The bread and butter of about 3-4 people including Computer Operators, Accounts Assistants and office boys is also connected with it.
Parvez said inspite of providing job to the unemployed engineers, the Govt is snatching the means of their livelihood. “This is most shocking, shameful and unacceptable decision on the part of the people sitting at the helm of affairs in J&K. It is being done at the behest of BJP leadership in J&K”, he said, adding it has also been reliably learnt that a big lobby of influential contractors is working in connivance with some bureaucrats connected with Engineering departments and wants to snatch their work share of 30 % in various departments. He disclosed that at present 1490 such SHGs are functional in Kashmir and 90 in UT of Ladakh.
Jagpaul Singh, president SHGs of Engineers Association, Jammu, said today Kashmir SHG engineers launched agitation and from tomorrow Jammu groups would also come out on roads. He said this is draconian and anti-youth decision of the UT Administration. This seems to be a deep rooted conspiracy against educated J&K Youth. Some people in connivance of J&K UT bureaucracy want to snatch their bread and butter. They will not allow this to happen it, Singh asserted.
Jagpaul said he is working in the Group for the last 16 years. PDP Govt during 2004 had started this scheme by providing big relief to unemployed engineers. “It was the vision of Mufti Sayeed who provided this avenue to the unemployed engineers. We people further provided work to other professionals by hiring their services. The Association has decided to launch agitation at all the district headquarters and strongly oppose this anti-people and anti-youth move of this Government under BJP. This decision would prove counter productive for BJP and the UT Administration,” Singh warned.