Protocol war again haunts BJP, Speaker boycotts DDB meet
JAMMU, Apr 10: Annual Plan of Jammu district has gone down to Rs 205 crore from last financial year’s Rs 215 crore even as Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, the chairman of the District Development Board (DDB) Jammu, approved Rs 1 crore for every MLA of the district for development of their constituencies in the DDB meeting held here today, which significantly was given miss by all the Ministers barring those, who are members of the Board.
As majority of Administrative Secretaries including those holding charge of the Deputy Chief Minister’s Departments including Power and Housing and Urban Development too didn’t attend the meeting, Dr Nirmal Singh told the Excelsior that he has directed for seeking explanation from them for initiating further action against them.
Meanwhile, the ongoing protocol war within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) surfaced again today when Legislative Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta, BJP MLA from Gandhi Nagar, refused to attend the DDB Jammu meeting, chaired by Dr Nirmal Singh.
Gupta conveyed that he would have attended the DDB meeting if it was presided over by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti. However, since Mehbooba didn’t attend the meeting and it was presided over by the Deputy Chief Minister, the Speaker didn’t join the meeting.
The protocol war has become a major issue between the Deputy Chief Minister and the Legislative Assembly Speaker with both claiming that they were above to each other in the protocol. The issue had even rocked budget session of the Legislative Assembly. The Speaker, maintaining that he was above in the protocol from the Deputy Chief Minister, has been boycotting all the meetings presided over by the latter.
Sources said National Conference MLA from Nagrota, Devender Singh Rana pointed out that sanctity of the prestigious institution like the DDB has been completely eroded as decisions taken by it were not being implemented and that majority of Ministers and Administrative Secretaries were missing from the meeting.
According to sources, even the Administrative Secretaries of Housing and Power Development Departments, which are held by the Deputy Chief Minister, didn’t attend the DDB meeting. Also, the Administrative Secretaries of Finance Department, Planning Development and Monitoring Department and many other Departments, whose presence was must in the meeting of capital city’s DDB, abstained, prompting number of members to point out their absence after which the Deputy Chief Minister directed for seeking their explanation.
“Some of the members pointed out that since Jammu was capital city of the State for six months, majority of Ministers and Administrative Secretaries should have attended it so that issues raised by the members are settled on the spot,” sources said and disclosed that only three Ministers-Health and Medical Education Bali Bhagat, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control Sham Choudhary and Minister of State for Education and Tourism Priya Sethi, who happens to be members of the DDB Jammu as they are MLAs from Jammu district, attended the meeting. Only three Administrative Secretaries (all belonging to Departments of these three Ministers) were present.
As against Rs 215 crore Annual Plan of Jammu district in the Financial Year of 2017-18, the district was allocated only Rs 205 crore for 2018-19 but the Deputy Chief Minister said out of Rs 215 crore of last fiscal year, only Rs 170 crore were released. Moreover, he added, each MLA has been given Rs 1 crore for constituency development. Sources, however, noted that last year, each MLA had been given Rs 3.5 crore additionality as against Rs 1 crore this year.
However, Dr Nirmal Singh, in addition to the Plan, released Rs 5 crore for normal works in the district, Rs 40 lakh for repair of transformers and special funds for development of Gharana wetland in RS Pura, Sewerage works, Stadium and Government hospitals, which would boost infrastructure and manpower.
On the issues raised by BJP Lok Sabha member from Jammu, Jugal Kishore Sharma and BJP MLA from Jammu West Sat Sharma ‘CA’, Dr Singh said a separate meeting would be convened to discuss alignment of Jammu-Akhnoor road widening and construction of Fly Overs from Ambphalla to BC Road and Ambphalla to Janipura. Dr Singh assured Jugal and Sat Sharma that all works listed by them would be examined and executed while under-construction works would be expedited.
Sources said BJP MLA from Akhnoor, Rajiv Sharma was agitated that number of works listed by him have not been executed due to official apathy and was assured by the DDB Chairman that these works would be expedited.
Even Health and Medical Education Minister Bali Bhagat pointed out that Rs 30 lakh released by him for transformers under Constituency Development Fund haven’t been utilized so far and the transformers haven’t been installed.
BJP Rajya Sabha member Shamsher Singh Manhas said even after three years, the bureaucrats have failed to shun the “Congress culture of no work”. He said the bureaucrats should be taken to task and compelled by the Government to adopt Modi culture of work to address problems of the people.
National Conference MLA from Nagrota Devender Singh Rana expressed grave concern over undermining the time tested institutional mechanism of District Development Boards, saying the PDP-BJP dispensation has set a wrong precedence of diluting their efficacy.
“Governments come and Governments go but the sanctity of institutions had to be maintained for the larger interest of the State and its people”, he added.
Rana said the Jammu district, like rest of the State, is braving the brunt of developmental paralysis and administrative inertia, which could perhaps be a compelling factor for the ministerial and other senior administrative representatives of the Government to avoid the opposition and defend non-performance of over three years. “In any case, this sad state of state of affairs is undemocratic and unpardonable”, he said, adding that absence of concerned deprives the Board of knowing about the status of various decisions taken by the Board.
An official handout side: Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh today directed for ensuring the proper and focused attention to the development of the Jammu so that the people living here get benefitted from the various developmental initiatives and programmes.
Chairing the District Development Board meeting of Jammu district here today, the Deputy Chief Minister said that the funds earmarked for the developmental activities and programmes should be utilized to the maximum and the local representatives of the respective areas and constituencies should also be involved in their formulation and implementation, so that the scope of the developmental initiatives gets broadened. He said that the schemes being implemented would ensure that the socio- economic profile of the people of the area gets a fillip and Jammu comes up as one of the major developed areas of the country.
Dr Singh said that Jammu being the winter capital of the State has to cater to a large chunk of population especially those coming from catchment districts and other divisions as well, therefore, the need of providing quality civic amenities and housing needs is very essential which need to be factored in a proper perspective planning process.
Asking the executing agencies to strictly follow the project completion deadlines, Dr Singh said that projects under execution should be completed within the stipulated time frame so that the benefits percolate down to people at the earliest and the cost escalation factor is also arrested.
The Deputy Chief Minister while asking the officers to ensure the summer preparedness directed creation of a buffer of water pumps and lift motors in view of the coming summers and irrigation season in the district. He also directed for exploring the possibility of providing tube wells to the areas of the city especially the old city and also directed the Irrigation and Flood Control officers to ensure proper irrigation facilities to the rural area of the district especially in the coming months of cultivation.
The Deputy Chief Minister asked the officers to take up with NHAI the issues of providing more road furniture and emergency response equipment like ambulances on the newly constructed Jammu-Udhampur National highway patch and rehabilitation of vendors of Nandni who were dislocated due to road widening. He also directed ensuring availability of Urdu knowing teachers in the schools where ever needed besides undertaking a safety audit of all the school buildings.
The Deputy Chief Minister called for fast pacing several prestigious projects of the Jammu like the Mubarak Mandi , Road widening, four lanning of Akhnoor road, Ropeway Project, Tawi River Front development and asked the executing agencies to hold regular meetings with each other, so that these are completed within the stipulated time and the cost escalation factor is effectively arrested. He asked the officers to explore the possibility of providing more flyovers and grid separators to regulate the traffic movement in the Jammu city and adjoining areas.
Protocol war again haunts BJP, Speaker boycotts DDB meet