Mockery of DDB as MLAs, HoDs fail to attend meet

Protesters block Minister’s vehicle

Avtar Bhat
KATHUA, May 5: Making a mockery of District Development Board (DDB), three MLAs of the district out of five including one Cabinet Minister and two former Cabinet Ministers besides two MPs one of Lok Sabha representing the Kathua -Doda constituency and another of Rajya Sabha as well as Vice Chairpersons of various Boards and Corporations barring one did not attend today’s DDB meeting held here.
According to sources, the DDB meeting which was chaired by Minister of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control  Sham Lal Choudhary was attended by only two MLAs out of five MLAs of district Kathua. While MLA  Bani Jeewan Lal and MLA Hiranagar Kuldeep Raj attended the  meeting,  MLA Kathua, Rajiv Jasrotia, who is also a Cabinet Minister, former Deputy Chief Minister and MLA Billawar, Dr Nirmal Singh and former Forest Minister and MLA Basholi Ch Lal Singh were conspicuous by their absence.
Besides them, MP Kathua Doda Constituency, Dr Jitendra Singh and RS MP, Shamsher Singh Manhas as well as the VCs of all boards barring one of Backward Classes Development Board, Rishpal Verma did not attend the meeting, sources said, adding the Government has taken the DDB meeting so casual that even some Heads of Departments did not attend it while no officer represented the Tourism Development Authorities of Basholi & Billawar as well as Billawar  & Duggal in the meeting. Both these TDAs are headless and no one has been given charge to look after them.
However, when contacted Union Minister in PMO and MP Dr Jitendra Singh said that he did not receive any invitation from the State Government regarding the DDB meeting scheduled today. Clarifying, he said that he was in Sanasar as a part of country wide gram Swaraj Programme launched by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. Jitendra Singh said that for last some time he has been touring different parts of his constituency also.
When contacted, MLA Kathua and Forest Minister Rajeev Jasrotia said that he was assigned the duty by party to attend the public darbar at party Headquarters Jammu owing to which he could not attend the meeting. “This I have conveyed to Choudhary Sham also”, he added.
Sources said the Government has come for a sharp criticism for making the DDB meetings a mockery which are held to chalk out the development agenda of the district, fix the annual plan and also take stock of the ongoing schemes and projects in the district and today’s meeting held at Kathua turned out to be a total flop show.
Sources said that among the HoDs Director Tourism and Sarav Shiksha Abhiyan could not  attend the meeting .
However, it has been reported that some officers who had come to take part in the meeting from Jammu had to beat a hasty retreat after the cavalcade of the Minister of PHE, irrigation and Flood Control was attacked by the protestors at Koota Morh demanding CBI probe into Rassana murder mystery.
The protestors who were led by Hindu Ekta Manch (HEM) under a Peepal tree soon rushed to the opposite tube of National Highway with black flags in their hands where from the Minister’s cavalcade had to pass. However sensing trouble the police authorities diverted cavalcade to another side. The Minister’s vehicle and his security vehicle managed to cross the area but the mob rushed to that tube and blocked the road with the result some officers were forced to beat a hasty retreat.
Sources said the protesters also pelted stones on the vehicles and windows of one to two vehicles were damaged in the stone pelting.
Sources said various issues regarding the delay in developmental and welfare schemes in the district were raised in the meeting by the two public representatives  and grave concern was shown over dismal functioning of the Tourism Development Authorities which have not been sanctioned budget till date.
The concern was also shown for not giving forest clearance to roads being constructed under PMGSY, releasing of compensation for shifting of utility, failure to revise the carriage charges of FCS& CA since 2010, failure to open the fair price shops and delay in issuance of ration cards both under BPL and APL categories resulting into the sufferings of the people.
Sources said dismay was also expressed by the MLAs over the deletion of names from the ration cards of the beneficiaries existing before 2001, delay in starting of much talked about Deendayal Gramin Jyoti Yojna and improper implementation of PM Suraksha Bhima Yojna as the same was given less publicity. Besides, the payment under MGNREGA schemes is pending and hundreds of pension cases under old age and widow pension are also pending.
MLA Bani, Jeewan Lal took serious exception that directives of Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti given during a meeting in Kathua on March 22 for construction of the remaining works of two roads one from Katli to Malhar and another from Chanchli to Hallo have not been implemented as the work on two roads has not started yet.
Sources said Sham Lal Choudhary while addressing the meeting gave to the officers that the schemes be implemented as well as completed in stipulated time and funds should not get lapse due to delay etc.
He also asked the authorities to ensure the proper supply of water and power in view of coming summer season so that people didn’t face any problem.
He urged the PHE officers that every effort be made to tap the sources of drinking water so that water crisis are not faced any where.
Meanwhile, the agitating Anganwari workers protested at Kali Bari and tried to stop Minster’s cavalcade but police managed to shift them to Social Welfare Office Kathua by assuring them that the Minister will come here and listen to their demands. However later police diverted the route of Minister and took him via Hospital route to DC Office.
This infuriated the Anganwari workers who rushed in protest to DC office and sat on dharna there. The protesting workers with black flags in their hands shouted slogans against the Government.
A minor scuffle also took place between agitating Anganwari workers and lady police and one worker fell unconscious on the road. She was later hospitalized.