For so many years, J&K government was being termed to be the employer of last resorts because anybody who would not get job anywhere would end up in state government.
The fact is the J&K government is also a major transporter. It purchases vehicles of all hues and numbers are staggering. In last three years, J&K government spent Rs 90, 97, 07,998.9 for purchasing 2315 motor cars. This all transport is meant to manage the mobility of the people who run the crowded government in the state.
State Motor Garages (SMG) topped the list of motor vehicle purchases with a number of 1195 for an amount of Rs 8125.39 lakh. State Motor Garages is the official transporter of the government that ferries officers, their families and the lawmakers around.
The Garages purchases came in the midst of a major budget announcement last fiscal. Terming it as one of the “biggest departments in the state” and state’s “biggest transport outfit”, finance minister Dr Haseeb Drabu had said that its current system of working was very old and with increasing work of the government, SMG is unable to cater to the needs of transport in an efficient manner.
“The government will come up with a centralized policy of outsourcing transport services. Ideally, the SMG should move from being an administrative department to being a non-departmental undertaking. The first step is to make it into a PSE with one large dedicated client,” the budget stated. “It will be infused with funds and if it works well, it could be hived off as a separate corporation. We can try an innovative solution of making all the operational people the shareholders in this enterprise. It goes without saying that this move will also reduce the extent of leakage and corruption in the system.”
The budget suggested that it will make savings and the prices will be much less due to bulk assured business to private sector. Besides, the burden of hiring drivers, maintenance of cars, and fuel expenses up to the predetermined mileage level will be eliminated. Another thing that will go away with this intervention was the downtime of government owned vehicles.
The government, however, did not implement the decision. In its Action Taken Report (ATR), the government said that it was “very complex issue” and involves huge numbers; the government is weighing “pros and cons of the privatization”. “The issue of SMG has had to be kept on the backburner due to various reasons especially the security situation,” the ATR said. “A final decision will be taken in due course of time.”
After SMG, it is the police – state’s second most populous organization after education department that purchased the highest number of vehicles – 775 vehicles for an amount of Rs 79, 62, 28,029.
Besides, Finance department has purchased 56 vehicles in last three years for an amount of Rs 408.68 lakh.
Law, Justice & Parliamentary Affairs remains fourth top spender on cars by purchasing 21 motor vehicles in last three years for an amount of Rs 1610215.7 lakh.
Ladakh Affairs, Leh has spent Rs 9194742.42 for purchase of 19 motor vehicles in the last three years, followed by Ladakh Affairs, Kargil that has spent an amount of Rs 18089587 for purchase of 18 automobiles.
However, it said that the departments like J&K EDI,J&K SIDCO and directorate of Handicrafts have purchased the one motor vehicle, each, against an amount of Rs 1394000, Rs 890817 and Rs 796895, respectively over three years.
Going by the makes and the models, J&K government must be having almost all kind of vehicles that market manufactures. Police have purchased manufacturers from Mahindra, TATA, Maruti, Toyota and Honda. Ambassador continues to be the main driving dark horse of the state government but off late it has been taken over by Maruti Swift, Toyota Camry, Fortuner and most importantly by the BP Scorpio (black).
Chief Minister drives in a fleet that is bullet proof and foreign!