At Massive Costs
When the details about the investment that goes into individual security of political activists hit the newspapers, an intelligent comment made rounds on the FB. ‘While Rs 500 crore are spent on less than 1500 ‘mainstream’ people, not a fraction of it was actually spent on the main-stream (Jhelum) on which a society lives’. That is exactly correct.
The bill that the state government had to foot for protecting 803 categorized and 669 un-categorized political activists (as on date), the bill has been Rs 452.43 crore for the last five years. While Rs 149.92 crore is the salary component of the personal security officers (PSO) guarding them, another Rs 259.54 crore has gone as salary to additional security men who either guard them or their properties. These people burnt fuel for Rs 26.43 crore as the government paid Rs 16.52 crore for hiring secured hotel accommodation for them. The government has already provided a fleet of 708 vehicles for mobility of these people. That means the state government is spending Rs 614716 on every single protected person a year which is a cost of Rs 1684 per day.
If Finance Minister’s assertion that he will make private sector jobs more attractive than those of the government, the jobs in next few years will be slightly under distress. The government told the assembly that they have 60646 positions available within the 36 departments of the government but 22237 of them are under promotion quota leaving only 38409 positions – 5711 gazetted and 32698 non gazette positions for direct recruitment. With PSC and SSB in position, hopefully the recruitment process may speed up. Vacancies could have been more but the extension in age of retirement by two years has frozen retirements for two years of more than 8000 officials.
The government also informed that its predecessor regime, the NC-Congress coalition had recruited a total of 60323 people in last six years ending 2014. While 6415 recruitments were made by the PSC, 34629 were made by the SSB, 19279 positions were filled by the Police Recruitment Board. It excludes the appointments that were made under SRO’s 43, 349, 64 and J&K Civil Services (Special Provisions) Act. Appoints made by various financial institutions directly and indirectly are also not listed which may be more than 10,000.
By another intervention, the state government has literally done away with the Employment Department that was running the District Employment and Counseling Centres across state’s 22 districts since 2010. A budget intervention has subsumed the age-old J&K Self Employment Scheme (J&KSES) in the Seed Capital Scheme that J&K EDI is successfully implementing. J&KSES has failed in making a change on ground for a varied set of reasons and was done away with. Besides, the Voluntary Service Allowance (VSA), a monthly pocket money to unemployed being dispensed by Employment Department, was also stopped. Now the government will have to decide whether it would permit a full-fledged department with nearly 300 staffers to stay engaged?
On the unemployment, the government said it has registered 222180 unemployed on its live register by December 2014. These include 536 doctors, 12164 engineers and 11632 youth with Masters Degrees.
With the sick Srinagar-Jammu highway bleeding for weeks, its four laning will take some more time. Its up-gradation is taking place on four different stretches and the progress is unimpressive – 30.25% on tunnel portion between Banihal and Qazigund; 33.20% between Banihal and Srinagar, 67.88% on Chenaini-Nashri tunnel and 95.30% between Udhampur and Jammu. Interestingly, the work between Nashri and Udhampur and Ramban and Banihal is still in the tendering process.
This has forced the government to work on two alternatives, information revealed in the assembly session suggested. The first includes having a tunnel between Chattapani and Zaznar on the Shopian-Poonch Mughal Road which will reduce the distance by 17 kms. In fact, a feasibility study has been commissioned. Besides, the government has submitted a Rs 226.18 crore ‘supplementary DPR’ to the Central Ministry of Road Transport and Highways that, among other things, envisages stabilization of hill slopes along the route.
The second pertains to the other highway that connects Srinagar with rest of the world through Kishtwar via Sinthan Top. This was a defence road till recently and was taken over by PWD after BRO failed to improve it for a long time. It is Batote-Kishtwar-Sinthan Top road that connects with Kashmir through Daksum and is called National Highway – IB. Between Batote and Sinthan Top, it is 193 kms. PWD has taken over 184 kms so far. Now PWD says it has sent a DPR of Rs 161.70 crore to the Central Ministry of Road Transport and Highways for its improvement. Private transport is using the road during summers but the status of the road is seriously bad between Kishtwar and Sinthan Top.
Not known to many people, it is this road that has an extension which connects Kashmir to Punjab directly bypassing Jammu. This track takes off at Lakhanpur goes through Basholi and Bani and reaches Bhaderwah where it connects with the road leading to Sinthan Top. Between Lakhanpur and Bhaderwah, it is 315 kms of which 111 kms are maintained by the PWD. The remaining 204 are maintained by BRO of which 103 kms are black-topped and the rest is fair-weather.
The government says that BRO has already incurred Rs 76.07 crores in improving the road between Bhaderwah and Bani. The 88-kms stretch between Bani and Basholi has already been taken up by BRO for double-laning. It involves a massive 592 meter bridge. The road is expected to be operation by December 2017 as already Rs 249.69 crore sands spent on it. This stretch will be shorter if the BRO accedes to the demand of setting up of a tunnel between Basti and Chattergala which would cost Rs 1113 crore.
In a bid to reduce dependence on outside market and help a consumer economy regain a bit of its manufacturing and production, for the last few years the government has been focusing on import substitution. Managing part of the livestock and poultry has been a thrust area. But the details that government offered to the legislature do not indicate any major shift on this front. Import of almost everything is gradually spiraling up. Import of liquid milk has surged from 86.86 thousand metric tonnes (tMT) in 2010-11 to 85.40 tMTs in 2011-12, to 72.16 tMTs in 2012-13, and to 76.61 tMTs in 2013-14. Egg imports have grown from 52.53 crore in 2010-11 to 57.96 cr in 2011-12, 59.69 cr in 2012-13 and 66.1 cr in 2013-14.
Poultry imports are still massive, despite a series of efforts that were made at various levels. Broiler imports were at 55.60 lakh birds in 2010-11, 59.50 lakh in 2011-12, 61.9 lakh in 2012-13 and 56.20 lakh in 2013-14. Although used as dog-food in rest of India, even culled birds are a huge hit in Kashmir. Its imports jumped from 35.8 lakh birds in 2010-11 to 43.60 lakh in 2011-12, 44.60 in 2012-13 and 34.40 in 2013-14. The absence of a dependable hatchery in the state’s private and public sector has led to massive dependence on the day-old-chick required by local poultry farms. Its imported numbers increased from 3.536 crore in 2010-11, to 5.07 crore in 2011-12, 5.13 crore in 2012-13 and 5.59 crore in 2013-14.
Kashmir has remained hugely dependent on the sheep and goat heads to manage the surging requirements of the Wazwaan country. Their numbers, according to the government, have increased from 12.95 lakh in 2010-11 to 12.98 lakh in 2011-12, to 13.78 lakh in 2012-13 and 13.70 lakh in 2013-14.
This statistics offers a huge challenge for the state government, especially the Animal Husbandry Ministry to take care of. If a captive market can not be adequately serviced by a state that has its financial institutions flush with funds and has massive underemployed manpower, then this trend can never be changed.
Ladakh region has emerged as the best place for women in the family, details placed on record by the government on domestic violence said. Under J&K Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act 2010, Leh is emerging as the best district as police registered only one case so far, followed by Kargil with three cases.
In Kashmir, Kulgam emerges the best one with four cases followed by Shopian with six cases. Srinagar is at the top because there are 255 domestic violence cases registered in which 439 individuals stand booked. Budgam and Pulwama have 17 cases each, Kupwara has 28, Ganderbal and Bandipore have 12 cases each, Islamabad has 29, and Baramulla has 71 cases.
Jammu division has a pretty bad situation. Jammu district tops the region with 455 cases followed by Rajouri and Poonch with 325 cases each and Poonch by 100 cases. Samba has 38 cases, Kathua has 82, Reasi has 33, Udhampur has 98, Ramban has 38 and Kishtwar 60. The government said the police have booked 4157 individuals in 2009 cases registered under this law.
Meanwhile J&K police says they have 2704 women on their rolls including 46 in gazette ranks.
Traffic Police collected a fine of Rs 14245797, Rs 1382130 as towing charges for wrong parking and a court fine of Rs 1655470 from Srinagar city in 2014 alone!
J&K Police have adjusted 2376 special police officials as constables so far.
J&K government has issued 117905 gun licenses in last five years. Kulgam tops with 22515 licenses followed by Udhampur with 17772, Srinagar by 16931 and Shopian by 15265. In Kulgam the licenses issued to civilians is only 228, rest is to army and the paramilitary men.