PDP created Rs 2004 cr liability: CM25 February 2010
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today said 600 to 800 stone pelters canít be allowed to hold 1 crore people of the State to ransom and pointed out that problem of stone pelting was confined to just six to eight police stations and not in the entire Valley as was being projected in the media. However, he offered pardon to the stone pelters, detained in different police stations, if elders and mohalla committees of the area gave a written assurance to local police that they wouldnít indulge in stone pelting in future. Mr Abdullah, in his 105 minutes reply on Motion of Thanks on Governorís Address in Legislative Assembly, said the Finance and Planning Ministry of previous PDP Government had left behind Rs 2004 crore worth liabilities creating a debt trap for the State. Welcoming Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary level talks, the Chief Minister hoped that they would sustain and taken to higher level. He offered that the State Government as well as the Legislature was ready to act as a facilitators between New Delhi-Islamabad and New Delhi-J&K talks to rid the State of gun. However, Mr Abdullah declined to make a commitment on payment of arrears of Sixth Pay Commission to 3.5 lakh Government employees. 'Some States have not even implemented the Pay Commission recommendations so far, which we have done. We are committed to pay the arrears when the funds are available', he said. He added that it was not an ordinary task to raise retirement age from 58 years to 60 years as this would mean stopping employment opportunities for two years. 'But I am not ruling out the increase completely. Talks can be held on the issue'. CPM leader M Y Tarigami said a Cabinet Minister should at least talk to the employees, who were cane-charged and beaten-up during protests today. The arrested employees should be released, Mr Tarigami and NPP MLA Balwant Singh Mankotia demanded. 'We wonít allow 600 or 800 stone pelters to hold 1 crore population to ransom. But, we donít want to be very tough with them. We are ready to release them if elders, responsible citizens, mohalla or masjid committees meet SHOs of concerned police stations with an assurance that they will stop the youth from such activities in future', Mr Abdullah said. No PDP MLA not even Deputy Speaker Sartaj Madni was present in the Legislative Assembly during the Chief Ministerís reply on Governorís Address, which was later passed by the Assembly unanimously after BJP Legislature Party leader Prof Chaman Lal Gupta withdrew his amendments. The amendments of three PDP MLAs were not considered as they were not present in the House. However, the BJP, NPP and JSM members listened to the CM's full reply. 'Stones didnít hit me or my Government or legislators but they directly affect the poor man who eagerly await the tourists to Kashmir Valley to earn his livelihood. The tourists divert to Himachal Pradesh or Uttaranchal if there are unwarranted incidents. 'No mission is served with stones. Please stop it. When guns failed to change even an inch of land for last 20 years, what these stones will do'? he asked. Urging media to bring facts before the public, Mr Abdullah noted that problem of stone pelting was confined only to five police stations of downtown and one police station each in Sopore and Baramulla. 'It is not right to say that entire Kashmir is burning or Valley has erupted in protests'. In a significant disclosures which, surprisingly, came nearly 14 months after NC-Congress coalition Government took over, the Chief Minister charged the previous Finance and Planning Ministry in PDP-Congress coalition Government with creating liabilities worth Rs 2004 crore during their tenure. PDP leaders Muzaffar Hussain Beig and Tariq Hamid Qarra were Finance Ministers in PDP-Cong coalition Government. 'We donít know where Rs 691 crore under Prime Ministerís Re-construction Plan (PMRP), Rs 379 crore under National Calamity Relief Fund, Rs 440 crore of Government of India loan to Power Development Corporation (PDC), Rs 400 crore under Centrally Sponsored Schemes Rs 17 crore for SRTC, Rs 36.2 crore of SFC etc have gone. An accumulative liability of Rs 2004 crore was left by the previous Finance Ministry', he said. He went on 'they (the PDP regime) destroyed the State financially and made us beggar. J&K Bank debts were also rising. We could have left liabilities but we have decided to set the things right. Consolidation of infrastructure is the only option before us but we will go for expansion (of infrastructure) after clearing the financial mess in a year or two'. Hinting at some tough measures, Mr Abdullah said the Government will have to opt for resources mobilisation on its own as everytime it canít go to the Planning Commission with a begging bowl. 'The people had to contribute for power, water, urban facilities like cleanliness etc. Resources have to be generated', he added indicating that the upcoming budget could contain some measures in this direction. Taking PDP to task, Omar recalled that last year they didnít allow the Governor to speak but this year they are not speaking themselves. Describing the PDP decision not to participate in debate on Governorís Address by staying away from House proceedings as Ďbeneficial to the Governmentí, he asserted that the Opposition could have made the Government accountable and answerable but they thought otherwise. Without naming Mehbooba Mufti, he said if the PDP leader even asked her MLAs on decision to stay away from the House, half of them would disagree with her. 'They (the PDP MLAs) didnít have guts to listen. They asked for a discussion today which was allowed. However, the PDP leader (Ms Mufti) just stood, spoke and fled away. They are welcome today, tomorrow or any time for discussion. Their each and every query will be answered', the Chief Minister said. He added that some of the MLAs create dramas in the House for the sake of cameras and press gallery as they had a totally opposite behaviour in District Development Board (DDB) meetings where they highly appreciate and appease the Government to secure additional funds. Mr Abdullah cited figures on imposition of Public Safety Act (PSA), civil killings, rapes and molestations etc to point out that they were very less during one year tenure of the coalition Government as compared to three years term of Mufti Sayeed led Government from 2002 to 2005. Referring to PDP slogan of ĎPSA Sarkar Hai Haií during two days protest in the Assembly, he said the PDP Government had imposed PSA on 1231 persons during its three year tenure while the NC Government has used the Act on only 370 persons so far. On PDPís slogan of ĎAdamkhorí (man eater), he revealed that as against 2205 civilian deaths in Mufti Government, only 94 civilians were killed in one year of NC regime. In six year term of Farooq Abdullah Government (1996-2002), 11 cases of rape and five cases of molestation were reported while the number went up to 38 and 37 respectively during Muftiís term. Even, the number of rape and molestation cases was just 13 and seven respectively during Ghulam Nabi Azadís tenure, he pointed out. 'Was this the healing touch, peace with dignity, protection to women and sense of security in Muftiís Government as being claimed by the Government'? the Chief Minister asked. To the allegation of PDP that stone pelting was being replied with bullets, he said one jawan did it and he was facing action. He recalled that when PDP patron (Mufti Mohammad Sayeed) was the Union Home Minister, 20 persons were killed by bullets at Gawkadal and several others perished in firing on Moulvi Farooqís burial. He said he didnít want to go into the history but was compelled by the Opposition by leveling Ďwild allegationsí. 'This was for the first time in 20 years that the BSF voluntarily handed over one of its jawan for inquiry into the killing. This was for the first time in 20 years that Union Home Minister (P Chidambaram) directed that if any other person was required for probe he too would be handed over. This was for the first time in 20 years that International Human Rights Watch praised a Government for its action on human rights violations', Mr Abdullah averred but reminded the PDP that no action was taken during their Government when four innocent cricket playing youths were gunned down in Handwara. On just concluded Sopore encounter, he saluted brave soldiers who didnít allow any innocent life to be lost. Asserting that 2009 witnessed lowest attacks and killings in last two decades, he, however, said that infiltration during 2009 has gone up as compared to 2008. Even in less than two months of current year, there had been many infiltration attempts with firing, shelling and fence cutting reported from the borders every third day. 'In 2009, the militants didnít try to hit us and we too didnít engage them. But we have told security forces that we canít allow them to consolidate as there were reports of infiltration. In Sopore, we have witnessed increased activity. The Ďoutsidersí (the foreign militants) wonít be allowed to come and create problems', he warned. On Rehabilitation Policy for the Kashmiri militants who want to come back from PoK, Mr Abdullah told the House that it was different to the existing surrender policy as it was meant for the youths who want to return without guns and grenades to unite with their families. He said some of the youths have returned from Pakistan via Nepal. Taking the BJP to task on Rehabilitation Policy, he charged the Opposition party with adopting double yardsticks saying they were supporting Punjab Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badalís demand to facilitate return of Sikh youths from Pakistan but were opposing the similar policy here. On Kashmiri migrants, Omar reiterated that the Kashmir Valley was incomplete without them. 'We are trying to create conducive atmosphere for their return. For 3000 posts of migrants, 15,000 youths have applied. Transit accommodation has been created for them at Budgam and Mattan', he said. Mr Abdullah, who also holds portfolio of Power, disclosed that the State was facing Rs 2500 crore worth losses on account of electricity supply in a year. 'Had there been no such losses, the State would have constructed 10 Baglihars and Sawlakote like projects', he asserted. Noting that J&K was Number 1 in the country with 72 per cent Transmission and Distribution losses, he said the focus would be on 100 per cent metering at par with neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. Admitting that corruption remained a major problems in the State, the Chief Minister opined that the menace wonít go till 'we all unite'. He said State Chief Information Commissioner and two Commissioners would be appointed soon to bring transparency in the Government. He reiterated that the Government was considering to convert the State Vigilance Organisation into Vigilance Commission. There was 90 per cent disposal rate in CMís Grievances Cell. Omar said the Local Bodies and Panchayat elections will be completed this year and power transferred from Civil Secretariat to the people. To a demand by Prof Chaman Lal Gupta (BJP) that 73rd and 74th amendments be incorporated to make Panchayati Raj Act meaningful, he said the demand would be examined by the Rural Development Ministry and the Cabinet. He announced that Mughal road will be thrown open for small private vehicles in June-July this year. However, it will be a fair weather road till a tunnel is constructed. Mr Abdullah observed that the NC-Congress coalition Government was working very well saying during over one year there had been not a single clash in the Cabinet. In PDP Government, the Cabinet meetings were frequently marred by walk-outs and clashes. Declaring that the NC-Congress coalition will complete six years ensuring that there was no fight between any region, community or castes. On Prof Guptaís another demand, he said a committee headed by Revenue Minister Raman Bhalla has been constituted to look into the issues of Pakistan and PoK refugees. An interim package of Rs 49 crore has been sanctioned for PoK refugees. On Delimitation Commission, the Chief Minister said the High Court as well as this House have given their verdict which 'I canít change'. Highlighting various aspects of Sher-i-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for Youth, Omar said for the first time a comprehensive policy has been formulated to address the employment concerns holistically. 'It is unfortunate that Opposition has started saying that the policy has failed which will in fact commence from April 1 this year. How can a policy by judged to have failed when it has not been launched actually'? he asked. He said while his Government has provided 20000 jobs to the youth in Government sector last year and another 20000 jobs are in the pipeline, more one lakh jobs are being created in Government service. 'However, the answer to unemployment does not lie in Government jobs', he said adding that attention is being paid to enhance the employability of youth to enable them get easily jobs in private job market. While enumerating the achievements registered in various sectors during the last one year, the Chief Minister refereed to the sanctioning of two Central Universities, construction of 10 college complexes, 18 Polytechnics, 140 Skills Development Centres, one Unani and one Ayurvedic Colleges, approving of Kishtwar tunnel in private-public partnership, opening up of Mughal road, construction of 3000 kilometers of new roads, adding 1.54 crore gallons of drinking water to the systems in Srinagar and Jammu, starting work on Rs. 25 crore artificial lake in Jammu, construction of Veer on River Jehleum at Chattabal, approval for taking in hand construction of Shahpur Kandi Barrage etc. He said that tourist flow in the valley during last year was 5.75 lakh excluding Amarnath Yatries. 'We received 30000 tourists in Valley by February 25 as compared to 21,000 last year. The Government has in consultation with the Central Government engaged International Monitoring Agency Mackenzy and Co. and National Monitoring Agency Nabcom to monitor Rs.500 crores Power Transmission Project and Rs.150 crores others project respectively, he said. On power generation, the Chief Minister said that his Government has taken measures to add 4000 MW of electricity to the system during next five years. 'However there is immediate need of reforming our power transmission and distribution system to reduce the losses which have crossed Rs.2500 crores per annum at present', he said adding that no Government can bear such huge loses. 'We have engaged The Energy Research Institute (TERI) for improvement and reforms in the power transmission and distribution system'.