KL NEWS NETWORK
In a bid to settle the issue of the new Chief Secretary, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed has started the process soon after he returned home after nine days of his absence from the state. He is understood to have had one detailed meetings with one IAS officer, a phone conversation with another as two other senior bureaucrats – aspiring to be Chief Secretary, were not available in the civil secretariat.
Informed sources said Mufti returned home early morning and drove home. Later he was in his office slightly ahead of 10 am.
“He met a number of people in his office,” one officer said. “Later he started asking for particular IAS officers but two of them were not around.”
While Arun Kumar had a detailed meeting with the Chief Minister, Mrs Sonali Kumar and Khursheed A Ganai were not available. Mufti had a phone conversation with B R Sharma.
Arun Kumar, the IAS officer whose “uncharitable comments” as Principle Secretary to governor at the peak of 2008 Amarnath land row led to the collapse of the government (PDP pulled out of its alliance with Congress), is the senior most of the four aspirants to replace Iqbal Khanday as the next Chief Secretary. Khanday opted for the VRS route to come out of the government three months ahead of his superannuation. Kumar has almost one and half years service left unlike B R Sharma who has still five years to go. Ganai is retiring in October.
Insiders in the government said Mufti had indicated that he will be tackling the issue personally. Sources said he was being continuously briefed about the resultant situation after Khanday decided to move out of the secretariat. Monday was his last day in office and Tuesday the position of Chief Secretary remained vacant.
A senior minister told Kashmir Life choosing the new chief secretary may take some time. It will be cleared by the cabinet, once the government makes a choice, he said. An official spokesman had earlier said Khanday’s replacement will come in due course of time.
Informed sources also said Mufti had detailed meeting with various delegations and a number of minister paid his visit and enquired about his well-being. Later in the afternoon he drove to his Gupkar residence where he had a detailed meeting with visiting NABARD chairman.
Placing high priority on fully utilizing funds allocated under NABARD schemes, Mufti Sayeed said both horticulture and handicraft sectors require a stimulus package to realize its full potential. He sought financial support from NABARD to lift the sectors by funding MIS (Market Intervention Scheme) as well as weather-based crop insurance for artisans, farmers and fruit growers. “It was our handicraft industry, in particular carpet weaving, paper machie and wood work, that resuscitated our economy during the years of turbulence,” he stated.
On the issue of imparting skills to youth to enhance their employability, the Chief Minister asked NABARD to sponsor two Skill Training Centres for Excellence, one each in Jammu and Kashmir Divisions, an official statement said this evening.
The Chief Minister evinced keen interest on new UN framework for funding of climate change projects for which NABARD, amongst others, has been accredited by UN as the only agency from South East Asia. He urged Chairman NABARD to explore possibility of funding projects up to Rs. 100 to 150 crore in afforestation, flood protection and livelihood, keeping in view the adverse impact of climate change that saw J&K witness last year one of the worst floods in its history.
Laying importance on the need for a recapitalization plan to recuperate the three District Cooperative Banks in Jammu, Islamabad and Baramulla, Mufti Sayeed said revival of cooperative movement is vital for growth and sustenance of rural economy in the state. He said the Government will vigorously pursue with Centre for allowing the state to credit its share of Rs 139 Crore in multiple tranches so that the capital infusion from Centre helps revive the ailing cooperative banks. “For a state with weak resource base, it will be difficult to provide such a huge sum in one go,” he said.
Calling upon NABARD to prioritize financial support to the state so as to reduce the drawable gap of Rs 590 Crore for ongoing projects under RIDF XIII to XX, the Chief Minister took up the issue of raising J&K’s loan allocation under NABARD for the current financial year, pegged at Rs 419 Crore, which is the same as last year. The state was able to lift Rs 365.71 Crore in 2014-15 against loan allocation of Rs 419 Crore.
Handing out an assurance to NABARD on full utilization of funds sourced, the Chief Minister directed all Line Departments to expedite submission of UCs (Utilization Certificates) and new projects for sanction to facilitate lifting the entire loan component from NABARD this year.
The NABARD Chairman informed the Chief Minister that NABARD has provided nearly Rs 1,000 Crore for executing ongoing projects in the state, including Rs 350 Crore, under RIDF (Rural Infrastructure Development Fund).
He also briefed the Chief Minister about the new RIDF scheme of setting up Automated Weather Stations in agricultural belts in the state, which will help the farming community to obtain advance weather advisories on their mobile phones. “Under RIDF, 10 MW solar projects with grid and mini-hydel projects up to 25 MW will also be financed in J&K,” he said while highlighting the potential of hydel power generation in the state.