Vohra keeps babus on tenterhooks ‘to refine administration’

From rolling out key administrative reforms to fast-tracking decision-making to prompt action on Sarore incident, J&K Governor NN Vohra is literally keeping the state’s bureaucrats on tenterhooks, officials said on Friday.
Vohra keeps babus on tenterhooks ‘to refine administration’
File Photo

From rolling out key administrative reforms to fast-tracking decision-making to prompt action on Sarore incident, J&K Governor NN Vohra is literally keeping the state's bureaucrats on tenterhooks, officials said on Friday.

In less than two months, Vohra—who has served as Union Home Secretary and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister—has introduced several initiatives  to improve governance and strengthen the mechanisms of transparency and accountability in J&K where credibility of state institutions has fallen during the past two decades.

"His decision-making is fast and he has a deep insight of the challenges facing governance. He is determined to stand up to all challenges," said a senior bureaucrat, wishing not to be named. 

Another official said: "He wants things to move quickly. He believes in shortening procedures so that files are cleared in a hassle-free manner."

J&K came under Governor's Rule on January 8, day after former Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed passed away at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at New Delhi.

Vohra, known as crisis-manager, is now trying to change the face of governance in the State—something that no elected government, with a huge battery of ministers, couldn't do, the bureaucrat said. But, he said, he is simultaneously continuing his efforts on government formation in the State.

According to sources, Vohra has set deadlines for identifying corrupt officials to "weed out the menace of corruption from the system." In a related decision, they said, he has asked the authorities concerned to speed up the process of sacking corrupt officials "as part of his efforts to refine the administration."  He has also asked that all such cases be placed before the Chief Secretary–led panel by March 15.  

In another similar measure, he has also called for swift decision on all cases awaiting sanction for prosecution in various departments.

To boost growth and development in the State, the Governor is taking speedy decisions on the long-pending unresolved issues, the bureaucrat said. A latest such decision was constitution of the Board of Directors of Power Development Corporation—something that was hanging fire over the past one year. The government's failure to constitute the body had badly hit the finalization of several power projects in the State.

Vohra, an official said, is also trying to address State's ailing financial health.  To start with, the State Finance department has unveiled a slew of austerity measures to lessen the burden on state exchequer. These include ban on holding government meetings in hotels, restrictions on seminars and exhibitions and regulating travel expenditures. The babus have been also told that "facility of video conferencing shall be used effectively and travel for the purpose of attending meetings should be avoided to the extent possible."

On the human rights front, the official said, the Governor-led administration has sent out a strong message by suspending the Station House Officer (SHO) allegedly involved in killing of a civilian in Sarore Samba.

Apart from addressing internal issues, Vohra is vigorously pursuing the development and other related issues of State with New Delhi.

Sources said when he was in Delhi earlier this month to attend a Governors' Conference, he met the Union Urban Development Minister Venkaih Naidu to press for inclusion of both Srinagar and Jammu in the Smart Cities' list. The Union Minister didn't disappoint him and agreed to consider the State's request, they said.

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