After four decades, the state may see a change in the system of governance. The bureaucrat-centric single line administration introduced in 1976 and diluted over time may be replaced by a legislator-oriented governance system (LOGS). The proposal mooted by Finance Minister, in the current budget discussion, is going to come up for discussion in the House early next month. This was confirmed by Parliamentary Affairs Minister AR Veeri.
J&K assembly will discuss a paradigm shift that could re-link lawmakers with development and cleanse the process from bureaucratic prioritization. The objective may address the increasing turf battle between lawmakers and the Panchayats, especially after the latter became custodians of the gross-root funding directly routed to them from centre.
The discussion is in response to the suggestion of Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu who said government's service delivery in the existing maze of systems is difficult, costly and in certain cases impossible. Recreating a viable structure, he told the assembly while winding up the debate on grants pertaining to his ministries, is a must and that should have focus on relevance of MLAs as the main custodian of a constituency's priorities. "Increase in CDF can never help improve the system but linking development with the lawmaker can improve service delivery at normal costs, faster and enhance transparency," he told the House. The lawmakers have been seeking a hike in the CDF to Rs 5 crore a year.
Deconstructing the existing governance structure, Drabu said JK has a twin set-up, though separated by more than half a century, running parallel and sometimes independent of each other. "The revenue system encompassing districts and tehsils was set up in 1892 with focus on revenue collection, and then in 1950s blocks were set up as basic developmental units," Drabu said. "On the one hand, with the land revenue collection becoming history, the revenue set-up is now just a record keeper and on the other hand with the winding up of Planning Commission of India, the blocks have become redundant."
Drabu said the emergence of panchayats as the other layer of development will soon start posing challenges with the lawmaker becoming the first target. This tension, he insisted, will soon start disrupting the systems in place.
The other problem that the system faces is proliferation of nodal points for service delivery. "One person in one constituency has to go to five places for five services because he has police station at one place, ZEO is at another village, tehsildar at other place, medical block somewhere else," Drabu said. "In certain cases part of a block falls in one district and the remaining part in other one which has created developmental no-man's lands."
Asserting that separating development from administration is the only solution with focus on a constituency as the basic development unit, just a notch above the block. He believes that every assembly segment should have two blocks co-terminus with the constituency and MLA should function like a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the constituency. This, he said, will reinvent the role of the lawmaker with the people he represents and help him sit at the top decision-making level in developmental process within the available kitty to the area's diverse requirements across sectors. All the educational, developmental, medical and other blocks should operate from one place in a block. This system, he believes, will reduce the costs of service delivery, add accountability and bring overall efficiency to the system.
While the Parliamentary Affairs Ministry has announced that the legislatures will discuss the issue for half day – the other half day would go to GST, again on Drabu's suggestion – the idea seemingly has started being positively responded. On Monday, various legislators including Hakim Yasin, Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami, Ghulam Mohammad Saroori referred to the suggestions made by Drabu.