By Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Mar 29: Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather said today that the Government was considering setting up of State Judicial Commission on the lines of National Judicial Commission and a State Law Commission as some legislations as old as 100 years have become obsolete and needed to be repealed. However, he ruled out setting up of Autonomous Development Councils for each district of the State on the pattern of Leh and Kargil Autonomous Development Councils.
Replying to points raised by some MLAs before passing of Appropriation Bill in the Legislative Assembly, Mr Rather, referring to the point raised by CPM leader MY Tarigami, said the Department of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs was not averse to the establishment of State Law Commission and the demand would be considered by it in consultations with the Finance Department.
After Mr Rather’s reply, the State Assembly gave nod to Rs 34,948 crore worth budget for 2012-13 and Rs 2,546 crore worth supplementary grants for current financial year. The passage of Appropriation bill would help the Government to draw a sum from out of Consolidated Fund of the State and the grants of different Ministries approved by the Legislative Assembly for expenditure of the Government for upcoming financial year of 2012-13, beginning April 1.
“The Law Commission is required to be set up. We will pursue that it was set up at the earliest. There were many laws in the State, which have been rendered obsolete over the period of time as they were more than 100 years old. Some laws required amendments. There was no other option but to go for an independent Law Commission’’, Mr Rather said sharing the concern of Mr Tarigami.
Also justifying State Judicial Commission, he said the State Government was waiting the outcome of National Judicial Commission, which was pending in the Parliament.
“We are awaiting outcome of National Judicial Commission. Once it was passed by the Parliament, we would study it and try to make the State Judicial Commission on the lines of national act or take some points from them. I think the State Judicial Commission can become a reality once the national act is passed’’, he added.
Noting that at present 45 services have been brought under the Public Services Guarantee Act (PSGA), Mr Rather said the Government intended to bring all Departments under the Act including Labour Department. He said a Public Service Management Cell has been set up in the GAD to supervise monitoring of PSGA.
The Finance Minister, however, ruled out the setting up of Autonomous Development Council for all districts of the State on the pattern of Leh and Kargil Autonomous Development Councils saying the State Finance Commission has submitted its report and principles of allocation of funds were being re-worked to ensure equitable and balanced development of all regions of the State.
He said three new services have been notified by the GAD under the purview of PSGA Act, which included issuance of copy of FIR to the applicant, character antecedents report from CID in respect of newly appointed candidates in the Government service and verification report from CID for acquiring passports.
“All Departments including Labour and Employment have been advised to identify services pertaining to their departments to be brought within the purview of PSGA. As soon as the comments from all the Departments are received and consolidated, further steps regarding inclusion of new services pertaining to all the departments including the Labour and Employment Department shall be examined/considered for being brought within the ambit of the Act’’, the Minister added.
Admitting that Security Related Expenditure was constantly increasing, Mr Rather spelt out reasons for it.
Referring to the point raised by MLA Jammu City West Prof Chaman Lal Gupta on massive increase in Security Related Expenditure (SRE), Mr Rather said the police force was raised manifold in the State during two decades of militancy and their salary has become a permanent part of the SRE.
“All expenditure incurred on the migrants including their salary, rehabilitation, appointments on new posts etc also formed part of the SRE’’, he said, adding that the Government too wanted reduction in SRE but it was not feasible at this stage.
“For the time being, we have to live with it (the SRE expenditure)’’, Mr Rather said.
On the demand raised by PDP MLA and former Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri for upgradation of Khiram as National Highway as it was in dilapidated condition in Bijbehara, Mr Rather said a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the work was under process at the level of Chief Engineer. The work will be taken up after the project is approved and funds made available.
The Finance Minister assured NPP legislator and former Minister Harshdev Singh that his demand for opening of a degree college at Majalata would be considered whenever the Government approved new degree colleges.
On another demand of Mr Singh for creation of tourist circuit for Dalsor-Ramnagar-Tarmian-Gandh Top, he said it didn’t qualify for a tourist circuit in isolation but can be made part of some other circuit project in future subject to prioritization by the Ministry.
On Harshdev’s demand for early establishment of industrial estate at Taju, Majalata, the Finance Minister said the DPR was under preparation by the SICOP. Rs 25 lakh have been provided for the project during current financial year in the State plan and adequate funds would be provided in the next financial year for land acquisition.
“As far as the issue raised by Harshdev for regularization of National Youth Corps volunteers was concerned, it was the Government of India scheme under which they were to be engaged for two years only. We can’t modify or change the scheme’’, Mr Rather said, adding he would take up the demand of Mr Singh personally with Jammu and Kashmir Bank for opening its branches at Chowki and Chanunta in Ramnagar. He told the MLA Ramnagar that the Co-operative Bank has refused to open its branches at the two places due to non-viability.
On the points raised by PDP MLA Zulfikar Ali, Mr Rather said the issue for allotment of land for permanent settlement of Nomads (Gujjar and Bakerwals) has been raised in various State Advisory Board meetings where in it was decided to identify land for development of colonies so that these Nomads could be settled.
“The issue has been taken up with the concerned DCs for identification of land for development of colonies. As and when the land is identified and funds provided by the Planning Department, the issue would be settled. A possibility can also be explored under Prime Minister’s 20 point programme where under allotment of land for dwelling purpose for the Nomads shall also be explored’’, the Finance Minister said, adding the Government was considering some provisions in Tribal Sub Plan for constructing sheds on IAY pattern for Nomads of J&K.
“The Government is quite serious about the problems being faced by the Tribals living in Jammu and Kashmir. It is out of this concern that a separate Directorate of Tribal Affairs has been established and made fully functional’’, he added.
On promotion of seven lakes along Pir Panjal range in Rajouri-Poonch district, Mr Rather said the Government would order survey of these lakes.
On strengthening of Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs), the Finance Minister announced that during current financial year, Rs 108 crore have been released (to PRIs) for construction of 1080 Panchayat Ghars under 13th Finance Commission Award. Another amount of Rs 63 crore has been authorized for community development and Panchayat works under the State Plan. In all, 1788 Panchayat Ghars are under construction presently under Finance Commission, MGNREGA and BRGF Grants, he added.
On the points raised by National Conference MLA, Saifullah Mir, Mr Rather said 2015-16 has been fixed as target date for completion of 100 beds hospital at Kupwara and funds were being released for the purpose. Mr Mir had sought establishment of SDPO office at Trehgam, Kupwara, two sub divisions of Irrigation and Flood Control in two blocks of Kupwara and two receiving stations at Chowkibal and Awoora.
PDP MLA Rafi Ahmad Mir had called for providing street lighting at Sallar and Sriguphwara, creation of special R&B sub divisions at Sallar Dachnipora in Pahalgam and providing AEE’s office (PDD) for Dachnipora Sallar, which will cater Khiram to Pahalgam area.
Independent MLA from Kathua Charanjit Singh Jasrotia alleged disparity in district plan funds between Kathua and Billawar. He called for early completion of toll plaza at Lakhanpur.
Mr Rather said that in order to look into demands for creation of new administrative units, the already constituted committee has submitted its report, which was under examination of the Government. He added that policy decision in this regard was required to be taken on total human resource requirement alongwith its financial implications, total infrastructural requirement and certain issues with regard to the Tehsils and Niabat created for the purpose of settlement operations and agrarian reforms which need to be examined in greater details viz-a-viz the recommendations of the Committee.
He said that detailed exercise on these matters was being conducted and as soon as the exercise was completed, it will be placed before the Cabinet for appropriate decision.
The Minister said that exemption from payment of entry tax under the Entry Tax on Goods Act, 2000 on the scientific equipments, critical chemicals and reagents used by the research and development institutions of the Central and the State has been proposed by him in the budget speech for the year 2012-13. He said necessary orders having effect from April 1, 2012 were being issued.
Mr. Rather said a proposal, to make items in cross LoC trade list more specific, has been sent by the Ministry of External Affairs, GoI to Government of Pakistan to elicit their response. He added that at present, 21 different items are traded from Salamabad to Chakoti and from Chakan-da-Bagh to Rawlakote.
By Sanjeev Pargal