Bill ensuring equal development of all J&K regions passed
4 August 2006
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on Friday passed a Bill to ensure equal development of all regions in the State by equitable distribution of available resources. Under the Bill, all backlog regarding development at the regional and district levels would be cleared. The salient features of the Bill include the constitution of the State Finance Commission (Section 3), a body to exercise the powers conferred upon it. The chairperson of the Commission would be an eminent economist with expertise in State Finance and Planning at the regional level. The Government would also appoint five other members. The Assembly paved the way for constituting the Commission as decided by the State Cabinet on July 7. Explaining the benefits of the early passing of the Bill, Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad said it would provide ample time to the Government to constitute the Finance Commission and address people's aspirations for equitable distribution of resources. The Bill is an effort to ward off repeated criticism alleging discrimination within the three regions — Kashmir, Jammu and Ladakh. Mr. Azad said Bills could be passed in the Assembly in one day when its subject matter was of an urgent nature. 'Sometimes matters of urgent public importance are given the nod without going into the discussion for the sake of discussion.' Mr. Azad said the Government welcomed suggestions by members with regard to making the Bill more effective. Explaining the objectives for the Bill, Deputy Chief Minister Muzaffar Hussain Baig said it was necessary to focus on sustained and equitable development of all regions by ensuring equitable distribution of resources. He said the State Finance Commission provided under the Bill would ensure the clearance of backlog regarding development and employment within a specified timeframe. The terms of reference of the Commission, Mr. Baig said, would include mapping the regions and the sub-regions with reference to well accepted development indicators, identifying backward districts and assess their deviation from the State's developmental level and evolving a set of policy instructions to equalise development across districts.