SFC Report Punctures Jammu’s Discrimination Bogey12 December 2010
Srinagar: Puncturing the discrimination claims of some quarters in Jammu, the State Finance Commission report has shown Jammu ahead of Kashmir in the fields of primary education and animal husbandry while the valley retains upper hand in tourism. Surprisingly, a member of the commission from Jammu had cited figures from an independent source, contradicting the official figures, to justify “discrimination” being met to Jammu region. SFC members from Jammu and Ladakh have been lobbying hard for inclusion of their demand of separate regional planning boards in the report. However, the demand was turned down by the rest of SFC members citing legal reasons. Meanwhile, tourism is the only major sector where Kashmir has been shown taking a lead. SFC was formed to suggest administrative reforms and equitable development of all regions and districts of the State. The SFC recently submitted its 1200-page final report to the chief minister Omar Abdullah. The report, based on several volumes, was prepared in three years and three months. However, two of its members, Swami Raj Sharma from Jammu and Sonam Dawa from Ladakh, out rightly rejected the “no discrimination claim” of SFC head Dr Mehmood-ur-Rehman and other members including noted economist, Nisar Ali. The duo also complained that they were not consulted in the final report. Sources privy to SFC report disclosed to Rising Kashmir that a volume of the report has 127 pages alone on ‘discrimination within the regions or districts’ of the state. “The report categorically states that Jammu region was far ahead than Kashmir in primary education and animal husbandry. More money has been pumped into Jammu region under these two sectors against Kashmir,” sources said. The report has also advocated equal distribution of backwardness, which of course is a major benefit to people of Jammu region. “The report has also advocated equitable development for all three regions of the State,” sources said. “The members of SFC have studied the developmental potential of all the 22 districts of the state and accordingly advocated administrative measures to ensure equitable development.” They said since Kashmir is considered as a major tourist hub, it has received enough funds under this sector and is ahead of Jammu. “This is natural. Jammu doesn’t have any place like Gulmarg or Pahalgam,” sources said. Sharma and Dawa have been pitching for separate regional planning boards in order to enjoy priority funding, something which is against the law of the land. “I object to it. I gave six solid reasons that it was against the constitution. If this has to be done, the constitution has to be amended,” said one of the members of SFC, wishing anonymity. Sources said demand for regional planning boards was also going against the single-line administration system introduced by National Conference founder, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah. At present the fund distribution system is done under state sector and district budgets. Though the concerns expressed by the Jammu and Ladakh members of SFC have been incorporated in the report, but not without a note by the commission head: “We don’t approve it.” According to sources, Sharma and Dawa wanted continuation of the Commission to enjoy “luxurious life style and hi-tech gadgetry”.