Govt bars MLAs from official inaugurations

Speaker voices dissent on directive

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, July 28: In a major setback to the MLAs, Governor NN Vohra has directed that no MLA will inaugurate any Government building as the Legislative Assembly was under suspended animation and that the buildings, which have been completed, should be thrown open for the public without any inauguration.
Official sources told the Excelsior that directions to this effect has been issued by the Governor on the ground that the Legislative Assembly was under suspended animation ever since Governor’s rule was imposed in the State on June 20.
“There will be no inauguration of the Government buildings, schemes or works by the MLAs when the Assembly is under suspended animation,” the Government directive said. It comes close on the heels of reports that number of MLAs continued to inaugurate the Government buildings and schemes in their Assembly constituencies notwithstanding the fact that the Lower House was placed under suspended animation by the Governor on June 20 when the State was brought under Governor’s rule after withdrawal of support to Mehbooba Mufti-led Government by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The Government has directed that the Government buildings/schemes and other works, which have been completed should be opened to the public by displaying signboard depicting name of work, scheme, estimated cost, date of start and date of completion of work.
The Government was of the view that the works and buildings, which have been completed shouldn’t wait for inaugurations and be opened for the public by only displaying the signboards mentioning all details pertaining to the work.
“This has further lessened powers of the MLAs,” sources maintained but justified the Government decision on the ground that since the Assembly was under suspended animation, the MLAs can’t inaugurate the Government buildings or other such schemes and works.
However, Legislative Assembly Speaker Dr Nirmal Singh didn’t agree with the Government decision.
“Some of the MLAs have brought the issue to my notice that they have been barred from inauguration of Government buildings/ schemes/ works. I don’t agree with the directive. No Government in the State doesn’t mean that the MLAs have lost their representative character. They continue to elected representatives of their constituencies and should have full rights over CDF and inauguration of the works,” Dr Singh told the Excelsior.
He added that except making of legislations since the Legislature will not be in the session during suspended animation, the MLAs have all other powers and they shouldn’t be curtailed.
“On the one hand, the Government is talking of holding Panchayat and Municipal elections. On the other, we are cutting down the powers of elected representatives (the MLAs). This is not justified,” he said, adding there was no Government in the State as no political party has majority in the Lower House at present but that doesn’t mean that the MLAs would lose their powers.
Sources said the execution of all ongoing works (under the CDF) will continue and completed as per the fixed time lines and payments released to the executing agencies thereafter.
They added that proposal in respect of which either administrative approval has been accorded or detailed estimates have been prepared but the work has not so far commenced will also be executed expeditiously, after accord of administrative approval wherever required and fulfillment of prescribed formalities.
“However, under the extant guidelines of the Constituency Development Scheme for legislators in the State, such works as were identified prior to the placement of the State under the Governor’s Rule but wherein estimates for the work have not so far been prepared or authorized shall also be considered for grant of approval by the designated authorities and executed timely by the concerned executing agency,” sources said.
They added that detailed guidelines related to the decisions have been issued for strict adherence to all DDCs, who have been further advised to personally monitor the pace and execution of all works and ensure their completion without any cost or time over runs in the larger public interest.
According to sources, at the Secretariat level, the Planning Development & Monitoring Department will undertake regular review of these works including their physical checking on ground, and furnish report to the Governor.
Sources admitted that powers of the MLAs have been curtailed to quite an extent with the Government directives on inauguration of new buildings and Constituency Development Fund but justified it on the ground that the Assembly was under suspended animation.
It may be mentioned here that Legislative Assembly Speaker Dr Nirmal Singh had earlier taken up the issue with the Government functionaries and suggested that the MLAs should be allowed to use their CDF.