March 2002 News

Farooq to raise funds issue with Vajpayee

22 March 2002
The Tribune

JAMMU: Annoyed over the "unhelpful" attitude of the Central Government in providing financial support to the state, the Chief Minister, Dr Farooq Abdullah, has decided to raise the issue with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Bajpayee, during a meeting with him in Delhi. Making a suo motu statement during question hour today, the Chief Minister said he would seek the Prime Minister's help in providing Central assistance to those who had been displaced from border villages owing to heavy Pakistani firing in the Jammu sector. The matter was raised by the Congress member, Mr Tara Chand who said border villagers had, before their migration, secured loans from banks which they could not repay as farming had been suspended because of the firing and shelling. He wanted the Finance Minister to waive the loans. The Finance Minister, Mr Abdul Rahim Rather, informed the House that the government had no powers to waive the loans but the matter could be discussed with banks. The Chief Minister said he would request Mr Vajpayee to allocate substantial financial aid in favour of the migrants. He said the Central funding was a lopsided exercise. "We prepare a Budget of one size and the Centre sanctions an amount which is less than the Budget allocations," he said. In his suo motu statement he referred to the plight of those Kashmiris who had put up 10 stalls in the handloom exhibition in Gujarat prior to the breaking of the riots. He said their stalls were looted and destroyed. He announced Rs 50,000 as interim relief each to them. The House witnessed a furore when the members belonging to the Congress, the BSP and the PDP raised slogans against POTO. They demanded that the government should withdraw the extension and implementation of POTO in Jammu and Kashmir. The Speaker only allowed Mr Abdul .Rehman Veeri of the PDP to speak on the matter. He said though the Chief Minister had said that nobody had been arrested in Jammu and Kashmir under POTO, he had figures which revealed that over 72 persons had been arrested. He said he would resign if it was proved that a mother of six children who was arrested under POTO in his Bijebehara constituency was a militant. The Speaker, Mr Abdul Ahad Vakil, directed the Minister of State for Home, Mr Najib Sohrawardhy, to look into the matter and inform the House about the reasons that led the police to arrest her. Even after the Speaker's direction, Mr Veeri staged a walkout from the House. The Power Minister, Mr S.S. Slathia, informed the House that tenders were floated for the construction of the Bhagliar power project in Udhampur district and the two lowest bidders were given the contract for carrying out civil and mechanical works. He said the project was estimated to cost Rs 3810 crore and until January, Rs 1,223.39 crore had been spent. The Chief Minister said the decisions taken at the District Development Board meetings could not be implemented because the Planning Commission did not give timely clearance and hence the required funds from the Centre did not flow on time to the state. The government informed the House that since members of the village defence committees were working voluntarily, they were not entitled to any honorarium. However, special police officers attached with the committees were paid Rs 1,500 per month. Later, the Rural Development Minister, Mr Ajay Sadhotra, introduced a Bill seeking amendment to the Consumer Protection Act.


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