Decision imperative in view of abolition of Upper House
JAMMU, Oct 21: With the abolition of Legislative Council as per the provisions of Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act, confusion is prevailing over utility of huge and new infrastructure being raised for the Upper House near Civil Secretariat at Jammu as part of multi-storey Legislature Complex.
In terms of Section 57 of the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganization Act passed by the Parliament in the month of August this year, State Legislative Council has been abolished and all the staff has been directed to report to the General Administration Department by October 22 for utilization of their services in Government departments and other wings. Even existing buildings of the Legislative Council in Jammu and Srinagar along with furniture and electronic gadgets have been handed over to the Director Estates Department.
However, confusion is prevailing over utility of several crores worth infrastructure being raised for the Legislative Council as part of independent Legislature Complex in the heart of winter capital by the Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation Limited, a Public Sector Undertaking of the Government.
The superstructure of Legislature Complex raised by Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation Limited by spending crores of rupees has two vast floors for Legislative Council, which cannot be put to use for the intended purpose as Upper House ceases to exist now. The other two floors are meant for Legislative Assembly.
“Governor’s Administration has yet not taken any decision vis-a-vis utilization of two floors which have been raised keeping in view the exclusive requirement of the Legislative Council”, official sources told EXCELSIOR while disclosing that design of Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council generally remains altogether different from other Government offices as such it cannot be put to use for any other purpose without modifications.
They further said, “no doubt Government can order utilization of infrastructure for other purposes but that would require drastic modifications in the existing design, which will put additional burden on the exchequer”, adding “even no decision has yet been taken on utilization of existing infrastructure of the Legislative Council both at Jammu and Srinagar”.
“Prompt decision is required to be taken about utilization of portion raised for Legislative Council so that timely changes in the design are made to house Government offices or other establishments”, sources stressed.
It is pertinent to mention here that due to unnecessary delay on the part of Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation the cost of the Legislature Complex project has already escalated to Rs 150.58 crore from the initial cost of Rs 104 crore and the revised cost is yet to be approved by the Government.
Not only delay even addition and upgradation of many features at the later stage by those who remained at the helm of affairs in the J&K Projects Construction Corporation during all these years have led to increase in the cost of the project, which in the absence of approval to the revised cost is unlikely to be completed within the latest deadline of December 2020, sources said.
“Keeping in view the abolition of Legislative Council, the Governor’s Administration must initiate steps at least for the prompt completion of infrastructure other than the one raised keeping in view the requirement of Upper House so that at least Legislative Assembly can be shifted there in the shortest possible time”, sources stressed, adding “if dilly-dallying approach is further allowed towards completion of portion meant for the Legislative Assembly then there would be further increase in the cost of the project”.
Moreover, those officers and officials of Jammu and Kashmir Projects Construction Corporation who made changes in the features at the later stage for their vested interests and to confer undue benefit upon their blue eyed contractors should be identified by the Governor’s Administration and taken to the task, sources further stressed.
“Had the Legislature Complex not been treated as milking cow by those who remained at the helm of affairs in the Projects Construction Corporation it would have been completed till now that too within the original cost”, they said.