Even after explicit directives of LG, Enquiry Officer fails to complete task

*Worst ever power crisis across Jammu region during last summer
After one year, new committee framed for fixing responsibility

Mohinder Verma

JAMMU, July 21: Bizarre it may sound but it is a fact that inquiry ordered on the directions of Lieutenant Governor to fix responsibility for frequent and erratic power cuts witnessed across the Jammu region during the summer of last year has not been completed despite lapse of more than one year. Now, a new committee of officers has been constituted to look into the issue thereby exposing the seriousness with which the grave issue was handled by the administration.
In the months of May-June last year, worst ever power crisis was witnessed across the Jammu region with people facing 12 to 14 hours long unscheduled power cuts. This invited strong reaction from the people who came on roads in large number and launched scathing attack on the Government for its failure to cope up with the situation.
After the public outcry, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha, while chairing a meeting at Civil Secretariat, on June 16, 2021, assured the people of Jammu division that a committee will be constituted by the Chief Secretary to enquire into the unscheduled power outage in various areas.
“Unscheduled power cuts that Jammu faced was not normal. That’s why, I have asked the Chief Secretary, Dr Arun Kumar Mehta to constitute a committee to enquire into the matter and those found responsible should be given the highest punishment as permissible under the law. I want to assure the people that your sweat will not go in vain and officers responsible for your suffering will be punished soon”, the Lt Governor had stated.
Accordingly, the Government vide Order No.526-JK(GAD) of 2021 dated June 17, 2021 issued directions for fixing responsibility for frequent and erratic power cuts in Jammu region. Shaleen Kabra, Principal Secretary to the Government, Home Department was appointed as Enquiry Officer to enquire into the issue of frequent and erratic power cuts in Jammu region and fix responsibility thereof.
He may co-opt any officer for conduct of the enquiry and the Enquiry Officer shall submit his report within a week’s time to the Government, it was mentioned in the order.
However, even after the explicit directions of the Lieutenant Governor and despite lapse of more than one year the inquiry has not been completed for the reasons best known to the officer who was assigned the task, official sources told EXCELSIOR, adding “due to this, the commitment made by the Lieutenant Governor with the people of Jammu region has remained unfulfilled”.
Stating that one year was more than sufficient period to complete the task by the Enquiry Officer, sources said, “it is also astonishing that for one year even the Government preferred to sleep over the matter instead of asking the Enquiry Officer to accomplish the task”. Now, after more than one year the Government has woken up from the deep slumber and constituted a new committee for conducting the inquiry and fixing the responsibility.
“In supersession of Government Order No.526-JK(GAD) dated June 17, 2021, sanction is hereby accorded to the constitution of committee comprising four officers to enquire into the issue of frequent and erratic power cuts in Jammu region and fix responsibility thereof”, read the order issued by the Principal Secretary to the Government, General Administration Department.
The committee comprising Principal Secretary, Housing and Urban Development Department, Commissioner Secretary, Revenue Department, Commissioner Secretary Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs Department and Secretary, Planning Development and Monitoring Department has been asked to submit its report within a month.
“What objective the inquiry will achieve more than one year after the people witnessed worst ever power crisis remains a million dollar question”, sources said, adding “immediate inquiry and action against the erring officers would have sent clear message in the administration that Government takes grievances of the people seriously and people would have appreciated the efforts of the Government”.
While constituting a new committee for conducting inquiry and fixing responsibility, the Government should have asked the earlier Enquiry Officer as to what were the reasons for non-completion of assigned task within the prescribed time-line, sources said, adding “generally, there is a tendency of assigning the important tasks/inquiries to the committees of bureaucrats but not ascertaining the reasons behind inordinate delay in the completion of the same and this is sending a wrong message to the general public”.