J&K was a broken state: Chief Secretary

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People in J&K have to keep patience to enjoy a “whole lot of benefits” of the Centre’s move to nullify Article 370 as many the “positive initiatives” have not been rolled out fully yet, Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam has said.

“Jammu and Kashmir was a broken state and there was no system in place due to years of misgovernance, corruption and unbelievable levels of fraud committed by leaders of mainstream parties and separatist organisations,” the Chief Secretary said.

Therefore, he said, not a “single soul had cried” over the detention of political and separatist leaders in August last year, when the Centre announced its decision to revoke J&K’s special status under Article 370.

Subrahmanyam, a 1987-batch IAS officer, who was hand-picked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to “clean up” J&K administration, said mis-governance and corruption had continued for so long that the system collapsed from inside.

“People have to be patient to get a whole lot of benefits after the abrogation of Article 370 as what had happened on August 5 last year, have not been rolled out fully (yet),” he told a group of visiting journalists here.

Subrahmanyam said before he came to J&K in June 2018, he met the Prime Minister and sought his guidance for his new assignment. “The Prime Minister told me: Go, clean up the administration, rebuild it and hand over the ‘amanat’ (precious possession) to the local people,” he said.

He said he has been working sincerely to create a robust institutional infrastructure which is free of corruption. “There was a terrible situation here. Things were designed for corruption. Mis-governance and corruption were for so long that the system has collapsed from inside. The whole state was a big ponzi scheme,” he said.

Subrahmanyam said there were scores of incomplete projects, land acquisition was a “big scam” and there were instances when doctors working in the Middle East were drawing salaries in J&K as it had no system of monitoring.

He said frauds in J&K were at “unbelievable levels”. “There were frauds in jobs, frauds in projects, frauds were everywhere”. “The JK Bank CMD was the scamster number one. Twenty families or a maximum 30 families milked the JK Bank. There was no accountability. All other PSUs (Public Sector Undertakings) in other states submit their report to the Assembly, the PSUs in other states come under RTI, CVC (Central Vigilance Commission). But the JK Bank is accountable to none,” he said.

The Chief Secretary said J&K was a “broken state, the governance was broken badly, there was no system, no rules and the decay began a long time ago”. “We are reconstructing things which were crumbling,” he said.

Asked about how people felt one year after the abrogation of Article 370, Subrahmanyam said common men were “not bothered” about Article 370. “What they expect is jobs, growth and development and the administration is working in that direction,” he said, adding once the administration delivers development, create jobs, people will realise the positive sides.

“Delivery will happen. Reconstruction of the UT is not an overnight work. It takes time. The work is on,” he said.

The Chief Secretary said three stages of transition have been going on in J&K. They are transition from Jammu and Kashmir Constitution to Indian Constitution, bifurcation of the state and then transition from state to UT, he said.

“There have been lots of changes. Separation of three lakh employees was done in just 15 days. The UT rules were made. We had to prepare budget for five months from October 30 to March 31. Then again budget from April for the whole financial year. Division of assets and liabilities have not been finalised yet,” he said.

Subrahmanyam said Rs 6,500 crore worth projects had been lying incomplete that include a 26-year-old project to construct a bypass in Baramulla. “We have already sanctioned Rs 2,500 crore to complete all these incomplete projects,” he said.

Asked about the security situation in J&K, Subrahmanyam said, “The day I can drive down to Pulwama just with my driver without police escort and pilot, we can safely say that the peace has returned to Jammu and Kashmir.”