UT Govt denies pensionary benefits to retired employees of JIM&WS

Pays no heed to MoD’s directions, EC decision

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, July 4: The employees of Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering & Water Sports (JIM&WS) Pahalgam which is a joint venture of Government of India and Department of Tourism of J&K Government have been deprived of pensionary benefits after their retirement despite the fact that the Defence Ministry has given the clearance to same way back in the year 2017.
According to sources, while giving its clearance to grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of the organization the Defence Ministry has urged the then State Government of J&K to give directions to Tourism Department for issuance of necessary orders in this regard but much to the chagrin of these employees the Tourism Department has failed to do the needful till date.
Sources said that the orders were issued by the Defence Ministry after holding of Executive Council (EC) of JIM&WS which was chaired by then Defence Minister, Nirmala Sitaraman and was attended by then Chief Minister , Mehbooba Mufti. The Defence Ministry issued clear cut instructions to Government of J&K in 2019 urging it to issue the directives to Tourism Department in this regard, but no headway has been made to sort out the issue till now. The Central Government’s approval was conveyed to J&K Government vide letter No 4912) 2015-JIM dated 5-07-2019 and Tourism Department was instructed to issue necessary notification /order for implementation of approved scheme.
It may be recalled that the Institute was established in the year October, 1983 with the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi as its president while the then Chief Minister of J&K, Dr Farooq Abdullah was its vice president with its main objective to encourage and promote a mountaineering and winter sports. Besides JIM&WS, two other institutions on the same pattern which have come into being as a joint venture of Central Government and respective States including HMI, Darjeeling in West Bengal and NIM Uttarkashi in Uttarakhand and their employees have been granted the pensionary benefits while the J&K Government is showing reluctance to do the same.
One of the employees of the Department has already expired who had to retire in the year August next year in 2017 and his family has been deprived of the pensionary benefits till date to which it was entitled, sources said, adding the miseries and sufferings of the retired employees have compounded since last year after the COVID gripped the entire Globe as they have no source to keep their body and soul together or purchase the medicines for themselves and their dependents.
Sources said though these employees knocked the doors of every one in the Government, and prayed for justice before the higher ups in the corridors of power for last two years but to no avail as the authorities in the UT administration are sleeping over the case for reasons best known to them.
The UT Government has outright rejected with the remarks that the issue does not pertain to them saying that the pension is to be granted by the Defence Ministry and Tourism Department has nothing to do with it.
Sarmad Hafeez, Commissioner / Secretary to Tourism when contacted by this correspondent outrighly said that Tourism Department has nothing to do with the case and it pertains to Defence Ministry which has to sanction and grant pension in favour of the retired employees of the Institute.
The Defence Ministry in its various letters while quoting the decision of Executive Council (EC) of JIM&WS in the meeting held on November 12 in the year 2017 under the chairmanship of then Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and attended by the then Chief Minister of J&K, Mehbooba Mufti considered the long pending demand of the civilian employees of the Institute for grant of pension and other terminal benefits and approved the same.
In the pursuance of the decision of the EC, the Institute prepared a draft pension scheme and sent it to the Tourism Department of J&K Government for vetting and approval. The approval of the State Government for the scheme prepared by the Institute was conveyed by the Tourism Department on November 16, 2018, sources said.
They added that after examining the scheme in consultation with Finance Wing of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) Central Government’s approval was conveyed on July 5 in the year 2019 with a request to the Tourism Department of J&K to issue necessary notification/ order for implementation of the approved scheme which however it failed to do till date.
The Defence Ministry, while taking the serious exception to the delay in issuing the notification has put it on record that though approval of Central Government for the Pension Scheme was conveyed after due consultation with the State Government the notification/ orders to this effect are yet to be issued by the concerned Department of the UT Government, despite repeated requests from MoD. The Ministry in its letter said this is resulting in delay in giving effect to the decision taken with the approval of the Chief Minister of J&K who participated in the meeting of Executive Council held on November 12 in the year 2017 in her capacity as vice president.
The hard stance by the J&K Tourism Department has been cause of the miseries of the retired employees of the institute, sources said, adding instead of adopting the delaying tactic why the Department has not said a categorical no to the Defence Ministry soon after it send the communiqué to it in 2019 apprising of the EC decision in this regard.
The letter from Nidhi Chibber, Joint Secretary Ministry of Defence to J&K Government further mentioned “As the delay is causing a lot of hardship and distress to the retiree employees and the families of the deceased employees I shall be grateful if you could kindly look into the matter and have the necessary notification issued by the Nodal Department of J&K Government at the earliest for implementation of the Pension scheme for the civilian employees of the institute in accordance with the approval given by the EC of the institute and the MoD’’.
After this letter, umpteen reminders were given by MoD to J&K Government regarding the settlement of the issue but to no avail and for these hapless employees the situation even did not change for better after the abrogation of the Special Status as some officers in Civil Secretariat continue to maintain the monopoly by still dishonouring the instructions of Union Government.