Govt Mulls Irrational Sops To Recover From Poll Debacle

4 June 2014
Rising Kashmir
Asem Mohiuddin

Srinagar: Following the heavy defeat of coalition partners National Conference and Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, the state government is preparing an exhaustive list of primary schools for upgradation to garner public support ahead of Assembly polls slated for later this year. Well placed sources told Rising Kashmir that none of the 300 proposed schools from various constituencies, mostly represented by Congress and National Conference members, meet the feasibility criteria. The list of schools is prepared directly by the planning department of education on the directions of Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand who also holds the education portfolio. Sources said the directions were straightway passed by the Deputy Chief Minister after both Finance and Planning Department refused to give nod to this proposal which will put huge burden on state exchequer. 'Around 200 schools are included in it. Over 100 more are expected to be included from some more constituencies in next few days. The proposal was rejected by the finance and planning department. But Deputy CM insisted the authorities to send it directly to the cabinet for approval,' sources privy to the developments said. According to sources, if approved, the project would require around 500 crores for smooth and successful functioning of schools which is unaffordable given the prevailing financial condition in the state. The government has even bypassed the already submitted proposal under Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA) for upgradition purposes to Government of India (GoI) which is aiming to bring all the middle and higher schools under the scheme. 'Apparently, it seems the government is frustrated with the recent election results and wants to announce some unfriendly sops to garner the vote bank. If the Government of India is willing to take the middle schools under its scheme and afford the budget, the recent move of government to put them on state exchequer is unnecessary and unfortunate,' a senior official said. Sources said the department has also prepared cabinet memo of the proposal and are poised to forward it to the concerned authorities after receiving the green signal. 'It will land the state in massive financial crisis. The chief minister shall take immediate steps to dispose the proposal,' the officials warned. 'With the state already in the debt trap, the finance department pleaded helplessness in incorporating this massive unfriendly project in the upcoming five year plan,' senior government officials informed Rising Kashmir. The new proposal would require hundreds of crores to create staff and infrastructure. Since the state is facing financial crunch, it is advisable not to go ahead with it, the planning and finance departments have informed the concerned authorities. The proposal is moved despite Government of India willing to afford the budget for all the upgraded high and higher secondary schools under RMSA with strict guidelines in place. In the last few weeks, the state government announced several measures which are largely seen as efforts to reclaim political ground after the debacle in the parliamentary elections. The unpopular 'New Recruitment Policy' announced by government two years back was scrapped in the last cabinet meeting followed by some more measures. The Omar Abdullah led coalition government was completely routed by the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Kashmir and Bhartiya Janta party in Jammu and Leh which he attributed to some unfriendly decisions.