Embezzlement of money for J&K development | Let the institutions tackle it: LG

The Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Thursday stated that none should interfere in the functioning of institutions tackling corruption and he believed that they would take all such cases to their logical conclusion.

This was how he deftly avoided to have embroiled himself in any controversy when asked to respond to questions related to the embezzlement in the money, meant for development in J&K in the past several decades.

Sinha was responding to media queries in the interaction, organised in connection with the J&K

budget for the Financial Year 2021-22 here at the Convention Centre.

“There are many institutions in the country which are working to tackle this menace. They should be allowed to work. One should not interfere in their functioning. I believe they will take cognizance of all such incidents and will take them to their logical conclusions,” he said.

The Lt Governor also evaded a detailed reply on the issue of renewed thaw in Indo-Pak bilateral ties, with a crisp single-liner that something should be left for the External Affairs ministers to deliberate upon. Yet he hastened to add, “Nevertheless, we all know the development is contingent upon peace. This is applicable everywhere. If it happens, it will be good.”

Sinha was accompanied by the Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, the Financial Commissioner, Finance Department A K Mehta and the Principal Secretary PDD and the Information Department Rohit Kansal on this occasion.

He reiterated his confidence in the functioning of agencies/institutions engaged in the job of tackling corruption, Hawala money, secessionism or other activities of similar nature.

In the light of his remarks during his budget synopsis that J&K never faced the dearth of money even in the past but did encounter a problem of its utilization on the ground, was there any proposal to set up a Commission of Inquiry to look into the embezzlement of money in the past several decades?

Sinha’s response to this poser was, “In my address I did not say anything like this. I simply left it to the people to gauge and form an opinion as where the money, which came for development, went. For me, the utmost important issue is how to accelerate the development here. The country has a law to deal with this problem. There are institutions so one should not worry on that account. The institutional mechanism of the country will take care of it. The institutions, existing for the purpose, do their job efficiently. They will continue to do so.”

Further elaborating on that account, the Financial Commissioner, the Finance department A K Mehta said that BEAMS ((Budget Estimation and Allocation Monitoring System) and the geo-tagging were being used by the present dispensation to ensure transparency and any scope of embezzlement of money meant for development. “No ruling dispensation ever had the kind of transparency, which is presently in vogue. Results of this transparency are visible on the ground,” he said.

Sinha reiterated his position on the issue of NIA revelations about PDP leader Waheed Parra.

The Lt Governor, in response to a query about the relief and rehabilitation for the Kashmiri Pandits, also hinted at some big, ambitious plan, which, he said, “probably even the community would not have imagined.” He, however, refused to spell it out at the present juncture.

ON ‘NO WORK, NO PAYMENT’, NEPOTISM IN PANCHAYATS

In response to a query about the allegations of nepotism in the execution of works at Panchayat level, Sinha said, “No one will be discriminated on the political basis. This will be ensured at all levels. We’re aiming at the strengthening of the Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs) to ensure equitable development with the active participation of villagers. That’s why even in the Back To Villages programmes, there were clear instructions that the villagers, and not the visiting officer, would identify the works to be done.”

“The system has been put in place that no payment will be released till the complete execution of work. Payment will, in no condition, be made on the basis of paper work. The treasuries will accept the bills only after the completion of tendering process and sanctioning of work. Some people are in discomfiture with this system. I can understand their problem. But it will remain so to ensure all-inclusive development. Ditto system will be there in case of DDCs and BDCs. The responsible elected persons/chairpersons will take calls about the works after evolving consensus with the other members,” Lt Governor informed.

At this point, the Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam too intervened stating that the strengthening of PRIs had an inherent system of checks and balances. “Even if a Sarpanch resorts to nepotism, the works executed will benefit the villagers only. But nevertheless, the democratic system at the grass-root level has an inbuilt mechanism to rectify the lacunae. Similarly if the DDC chairperson is indulging in corrupt practices, a no-confidence motion can be brought against him.”

“This is the essence of democracy at the grass-root level. It, itself, addresses the issue of discrimination and ensures universalisation of basic amenities i.e., Bijli, Sadak, Paani and even health care facilities,” the Chief Secretary said.

With regard to inadequate facilities even at the prominent tourist spots, the Lt Governor said that the legacy (from the previous governments) could not be changed or improved overnight. “Jammu division has a great tourism potential. All efforts will be made to exploit to its optimum by creating more and better facilities besides upgrading the existing infrastructure. On the basis of mu first-hand experience, I too agree that there is dearth of facilities at many tourist spots. In this connection, the budget allocation will be judiciously used,” he said.

With regard to queries about resentment among DDCs about the “Warrant of Precedence” and Panchayat members’ demand for parity, the Lt Governor said that all issues would addressed to the satisfaction of all.

ON REHABILITATION OF KP COMMUNITY

Confronted with a query on the relief and rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandit (KP) community and its linkage with jobs, the Lt Governor said that the jobs were just a small component of rehabilitation process.

“As far as 6000 jobs, promised for KP community under the package, were concerned, they were being promised by previous regimes. But the promise was not kept. Our endeavour is to accelerate the process to fulfil this promise. Mind it this is not the last package. Once this process gets completed, more such steps will be taken,” he said. In the same breath, Sinha averred that none needed to worry on that account as soon some big plan would be unveiled for the Kashmiri Pandits, which they themselves could not have imagined.

Confronted with a query on sports policy, Sinha said, “The sportspersons not getting anything even after winning a medal is a thing of the past. Believe it, they will be adequately rewarded.”