With consecutive reports of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) indicating scams of gargantuan proportions having been committed in J&K during the past few years, it was shocking to note the culprits being granted immunity from any probe or punishment. Earlier, the reports of CAG used to be tabled in the Legislative Assembly for discussion and deliberations with a ‘Public Accounts Committee’ to go into the adverse findings therein and recommend punitive action against the violators of financial norms. But, unfortunately, the said system had also ceased to exist with the post Art 370 abrogation and the non-existence of legislature with the result that even the duly reported scams by the ‘National Accounting Watchdog’ were being thrown under the carpet”. This was stated by Mr Harsh Dev Singh, Chairman-JKNPP and former Minister today.
Expressing grave concern over the subsequent reports of CAG revealing financial irregularities in the working of various govt Deptts going unaddressed, Mr Harsh Dev divulged that the recently released CAG report for 2019-20 had disclosed huge scams in various Deptts particularly I&FC, R&B, PHE, School Education, Estates Deptt etc. with huge violations of “Book of Financial powers” and the “Public works code, execution of thousands of works without tenders, without the accord of AA and technical sanction; diversion of funds under PMDP amounting to several hundred crores and other financial irregularities of huge magnitude. He reminisced that in 2018-19 also, the CAG report for 2018-19 had pointed towards a suspected scam of Rs. 8,000 crore was likely to have been committed during 2017 and 2018. The CAG report has categorically castigated Education Deptt, Municipal Corporations of Jammu and Srinagar and SKUAST for the financial irregularities, which regretfully had failed to invite due attention of the powers that be, bemoaned Singh. Likewise, said Mr Singh, the CAG report of 2017-18 had revealed “fudging of more than 10,000 crores in receipts and expenditure under the minor head 8,00”. And despite the unambiguous statement of fudging coming from the then CAG Rajiv Mehrishi, the govt had failed to act because BP was a partner in the then govt.
“Not only have the govt Deptts in general been collectively charged with omissions and commissions, but the CAG had categorically indicted several individual Deptts of J&K for financial scams. In 2016, the CAG report had charged the CAPD for massive irregularities, which too failed to invite the govt’s attention to quote one instance, the CAG had ruled that the purchase committee of CAPD (then Food, civil supplies and consumer Affairs Deptt) had spent Rs. 9.23 crore extra for procurement of sugar from November 2015 to March 2016 by ignoring the lowest bidder and making payment at a higher rate. And only recently, the CAG had castigated the Education Deptt for failure in implementing the Model School Scheme for J&K, thereby rendering the provision of Rs. 44 infructuous and had directed the govt for fixation of responsibility. The J&K govt, however, failed to act in any of the said cases”, regretted Mr Singh.
It’s not only the CAG reports that have divulged scams of enormous magnitude having been committed in various govt Deptts through its test checks, but several financial scams, including reports highlighted through media and other organizations, have failed to invite the attention of the govt for proper follow-up action. There have been several reports of slipshod working, fictitious billing for nonexistent works, huge backdoor appointments, the release of payments without the accord of AA, violations of financial code, Public Works Accounts code and Book of Financial powers with authorities concerned pushing the frauds under the carpet.
Maintaining that free run enjoyed by the corrupt elements could not have been possible without patronage of helmsmen, Mr Singh lamented that the tall assurances of BJP rulers over “Corruption free system, Accountability and Transparency” too, like its other slogans, have proved to be mere Jumlas and hyperboles.
Jammu Police Foils Bovine Smuggling Bid, 2 Arrested
Nagrota police recovered six cattle from a stubble-laden truck going from Jammu to Kashmir. The accused had made a wooden box inside the vehicle. Although cattle were kept hidden inside this box, the top and front of the box were loaded with straw so that the police personnel posted at the checkpoints did not even know that cattle were being smuggled in the truck.
The vehicle driver, Obad-ul-Rehman resident of Belicharana and his companion Murad Ali resident of Belicharana, Satwari, were arrested. A case was registered against both of them at Nagrota police station for violating the order of the district commissioner and cruelty to cattle. The police are not even denying that the accused must have stolen these cattle from somewhere. The interrogation of both is on.
On the midnight of Wednesday, Thursday, on strong information about cattle smuggling, police personnel blocked the Ban toll plaza on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. During this, vehicle number JK02AW-5753, carrying straw from Jammu to Kashmir, was stopped by the police personnel for investigation. However, when the people in the vehicle were asked about their destination, they could not answer satisfactorily.
Due to suspicion of the words of both the occupants of the vehicle, the police personnel searched the vehicle. When the stubble was removed, the police personnel found a wooden box inside the vehicle. When I looked inside the box, there were cattle there. After the cattle were recovered from the vehicle, the people tried to run away, but the police personnel did not let them escape. The vehicle was seized on the spot. Both the passengers in it were taken into custody.
Devender Rana calls on LG, raises issues of public importance
Former Legislator and BJP leader, Devender Singh Rana on Thursday called on Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at Raj Bhavan Jammu and raised various issues of public importance.
As per an official handout, Rana had a detailed interaction with the Lt Governor, wherein he projected several demands and issues pertaining to the release of pending payments under MGNREGA; age relaxation issue of the aspirants of Combined Competitive Exams; regularization of daily wagers; expediting pending Class-IV recruitment, besides joining issue of compilers and concerns of BSF/CISF aspirants and vocational trainers.
The Lt Governor observed that the UT government is formulating development plans and policies reflective of the needs and aspirations of the people of J&K and assured him of due consideration of the genuine issues projected during the interaction, the handout read.
It further added that the Lt Governor urged Rana to continue his endeavours for promoting public welfare on all fronts.
BJP govt–Delimitation Commission undermining democratic legitimacy: Harsh Dev
During its meeting with associate members, the Delimitation Commission had invited objections from the latter concerning delimiting the 90 seats in December last. Still, the Delimitation is nowhere in sight and nor has any draft circulated even amongst the members. And neither has any report been shared with media nor put in the public domain.
Therefore, no one knows precisely which seats are proposed for reservation and which are to be deserved giving rise to speculations and rumours being spread in the public and social media. This has also led to public unrest in several areas due to fake, unauthenticated reports being circulated by lumpen elements”, stated Mr Harsh Dev Singh, Chairman-JKNPP and former Minister.
Mr Singh said that it was amusing to note that after several months since its constitution, the Delimitation Commission had nothing to share with the Associate members except a verbal statement that nine seats were to be reserved for STs, 7 for SCs. Out of 7 additional seats, six seats were proposed for the Jammu region and 1 for Kashmir. Neither the names of reserved seats were shared, nor were the members apprised of the names of 7 new Assembly seats.
The members were asked to give their objections/comments concerning the above proposal without elucidating them. However, the Delimitation Commission remained silent over the names of the proposed 90 constituencies or the territorial jurisdiction of the said seats, thereby making a mockery of the members so invited to the meeting.
Referring to the Delimitation Commission’s statements over the number of reserved seats for STs and SCs, Mr Singh said nothing new in it. The J&K Reorganization Act passed in August 2019 had envisaged 90 Assembly seats for J&K UT, and because of the existing 10% reservation of STs and 8% for SCs, it was a matter of common sense that nine seats would go to SCs and 7 to SCs. So what has the Delimitation Commission practically done to delimit the 90 seats assigned to it, was the pertinent question which, unfortunately, none of the Associate members raised in the meeting.
He said that the meeting was merely an eyewash and proved that the commission had transacted no business since its constitution. The delimitation process was delayed at the behest of a nonchalant BJP.
Accusing the BJP of willfully delaying Delimitation and eventually the elections in J&K, Mr Singh observed that liberal Democracy was fast being supplanted by pseudo-democracy after downgrading the state into UT.
With the BJP govt hell-bent on continuing its proxy rule in J&K, the Delimitation Commission seemed to be giving it tacit and overt official support. And this fact had been corroborated during a recent episode wherein the PM’s Secretary had called a meeting of Election Officers including the CEC, two days before the meeting of the Delimitation Commission with Associate members.
Holding the BJP govt guilty of undermining the democratic legitimacy, Mr Singh said that its undue interference and control of autonomous bodies had given the deadliest blow to the values enshrined in our great constitution. Such episodes sadly bear the stink of the demise of independent institutions, and lying forlornly on the wayside was the tenet that law is equal for all in Democracy. Calling upon the Delimitation Commission to finalize its report without any political pressures, Mr Singh appealed to ensure that Democracy moved unhindered.
If the Delimitation of 4121 Assembly constituencies and 538 Parliamentary constituencies of the entire country could be completed in less than four years by justice Kuldip Singh commission of 2002, it defied logic that Delimitation of 90 Assembly seats of J&K had hardly registered any progress during the last 21 months, said Harsh.
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