Almost seven months after Article 370 was revoked in Jammu and Kashmir, the Union Home Ministry has informed a parliamentary standing committee that the J&K administration has identified nearly 84,000 vacant government posts in the newly created Union Territory but the recruitment is yet to begin as the details are still being scrutinised, reported The Hindu.
According to report, Home Minister Amit Shah moved two Bills in the Rajya Sabha on August 5 that read down Article 370 that had granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir and downgraded and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories — J&K and Ladakh. In his speech, Shah linked Article 370 to poor economic development in the region.
According to the Ministry’s reply to the parliamentary panel on February 18, as many as 76,453 vacancies are of non-gazetted and Class IV level posts. Merely, 7,552 vacancies are gazetted posts. On August 28, the then Governor Satya Pal Malik said at a press conference in Srinagar that the government had identified 50,000 government jobs and the vacancies would be filled soon.
In December, the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) pegged the losses post-August 5 security measures that included a continued communication lockdown in the Kashmir Valley at Rs 17,878 crore.
A report of the panel headed by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma that was tabled in Parliament last week asked the government “to expedite the recruitment process and fill the vacancies in a time-bound manner”.
“The committee further recommends to reserve seats for the local youth so that they can get due share in the government jobs of the UT,” The Hindu quoted the report of the panel headed by senior Congress leader Anand Sharma as having said.
When the committee sought to know about the initiatives proposed to employ people, the Ministry submitted, “The available data indicate vacancies of 22,078, 54,375 and 7,552 at Class IV, non-gazetted and gazetted level, respectively. The details are further being scrutinised and after finalisation of the exact vacancies available for direct recruitment, the Class IV and non-gazetted vacancies shall be referred to the Service Selection Board and gazetted vacancies to the Public Service Commission for selection,” the report said.
The Ministry said that to bring transparency, selection committees for Class IV posts had been abolished and the task assigned to the Service Selection Board.
“The selection shall now be conducted solely based on written tests to be conducted by the Service Selection Board. Similarly, in respect of gazetted and non-gazetted posts, the relevant rules have also been modified providing therein that the selection shall be made based on written tests to be conducted by the recruiting agency and oral test,” the report said.
In the Union Budget, Rs 30,757 crore was allotted to the Union Territory for the financial year 2020-21. When the committee sought to know the Union Territory administration’s plans to utilise the funds, the Administrator replied that the amount is in addition to the resources raised by the UT and Rs 26,800 crore will be spent on salaries as per the 7th Central Pay Commission recommendations.
Of the 54 projects sanctioned under the ₹80,000-crore Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) announced in 2015 for J&K, only seven have been completed so far.
When asked about the completion status of the PMPD, the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Secretary informed the committee that as on December 2019, 46% amount of the package had been spent and “seven projects have already been completed.”
“By the end of the financial year 2020-21, 75% of the expenditure will be incurred and by the end of 2021, 90% will be spent. Further, the PMDP, which is ₹80,000 crore, is a separate allocation and is reflected in the individual department’s budget,” the Chief Secretary said.
The committee was also informed that more than 6,000 acres of government land in J&K has been found feasible for establishing and extending new industrial estates besides creation of infrastructural facilities, reported The Hindu.