Ex-Ministers continue to occupy Govt bungalows

Guv’s Admn allowing burden on State exchequer
Nishikant Khajuria
JAMMU, June 29: Even after more than an year since the collapse of erstwhile PDP-BJP Coalition Government and also dissolution of the State Assembly since November 21, former Ministers are still occupying the official bungalows in both the capital cities.
Notwithstanding issuance of eviction notices to them by the Estate Department, these former Ministers from both BJP and PDP are not vacating the bungalows for continuously enjoying Government accommodation with free water, electricity and other facilities, offered to them when they were in the office.
In the then PDP-BJP coalition Government, there were 24 Ministers, including 18 Cabinet and six Ministers of State. All of them were allotted Government bungalows in Winter as well as Summer capitals of the State.
The coalition regime had collapsed on June 19, 2018 following withdrawal of support to the Government by alliance partner BJP and there was subsequent imposition of Governor’s rule while the State Assembly was dissolved on November 21, 2018.
Now it has been more than an year since the collapse of Government and above seven months since the dissolution of State Assembly, but the former Ministers, who are not even Legislators since November 21, 2018, are not ready to vacate the official bungalows for the reasons best known to them.
As per the rule, these former Ministers were entitled to reside in the official bungalows only for a period of one month since the collapse of then Government and they were supposed to vacate the accommodation within that period. Even if the Governor’s administration was kind enough for allowing them to continue to occupy these bungalows as simple Legislators, there was no logic of not getting the official accommodation vacated after December 21, a month after dissolution of the State Assembly.
Official sources told the Excelsior that notices were issued to these former Ministers by the Estate Department in January this year but only for eviction of any of the two official accommodations at either Jammu or Srinagar.
Though some of these politicians vacated their one of the two official bungalows following the eviction notices, others are still occupying Government bungalows at both the capital cities thus burdening the State exchequer.
Sources said that these illegal occupants have allegedly convinced the Governor’s administration that because of security threat to their lives, they were not safe in their own houses and thus need the Government accommodation despite being not eligible for the same.
Ironically, the Governor’s administration and its Estate Department are apparently kind enough to these politicians and hence no further action was initiated to get the Government accommodations vacated from these illegal occupants after formal issuance of a notice in January.
“The eviction notices in January were not immediately followed by the reminders because there was an impression that Assembly elections might be conducted along with the Lok Sabha polls and a new Government would be in place soon,” official sources explained but admitted that too much delay in initiating eviction process has been caused for no reasons, more particularly when there is no possibility of Assembly polls soon.
Soft approach of the Governor’s administration towards these former Ministers can also be gauged from the fact that soon after a month since the death of then Chief Minister Mufti Mohd Sayeed and subsequent imposition of Governor’s rule in the State in January 2017, the Estate Department had served notices to all the former Ministers in then PDP-BJP regime, to vacate their respective Government bungalows within a week’s time.
Even as these former Ministers were still Legislators that time and it was expected that PDP-BJP coalition Government would be formed again very soon, they were asked to vacate their respective official bungalows and shift to Government accommodation as per their status of a Legislator.
However, on the contrary, there has been no Government action this time to get the official accommodations vacated from these politicians, also including some second rung leaders, who were not even Member of any House.