Proceedings of Legislative Council on 20th Feb

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Council-14

Question Hour

Rs. 2 cr approved for establishing MCH in Doda: Sham

JAMMU :  The Union Ministry of Health & Family Welfare has approved Rs. 2 crore for establishment of Mother & Child Hospital (MCH) in the old District Hospital Complex, Doda during the current year.

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          This information was given by the Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Mr. Sham Lal Sharma, on behalf of Health Minister, while replying to a question by Khalid Najeeb Suharwardy in the Legislative Council today.

           The Minister further informed that diagnostic services have been provided in the new District Hospital, Doda, adding that one C. T Scan machine has been installed in the hospital, which would be made functional soon. He further said that the Blood Bank equipment has been shifted to the diagnostic block of the newly constructed hospital building and is functional; adding that construction of separate building for Blood Bank is under consideration.

          Replying to another question by Jugal Kishore, the Minister said that as many as 5908 Medicos and para medics under various categories have been engaged on contractual basis under NRHM upto January 2014 in Reasi, District.

          Giving details of staff position in health institutions of Reasi district, the Minister informed that 140 employees of various categories are in position against the sanctioned strength of 234.   All Health Institutions in the district are functional and providing adequate health care facilities to the needy, he maintained.

          In reply to another question by Mr. B. R. Kundal, the Minister informed that the detailed project report for execution of lift irrigation scheme at Jagtu Chack amounting to Rs. 232 lakh has been framed and is under process for submission to Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for approval as per the AIBP guidelines.

          The Minister said tube-well could not be commissioned for want of funds as the total cost of the project taken up under NABARD funding and which involved drilling/commissioning of 100 tube-wells in Jammu and Kathua districts got escalated due to time overrun as it had been sanctioned in the year 2004-05.

Rs. 86.25 provided as incentive under NSM in Budgam: Mir

Under the National Saffron Mission (NSM) Rs. 86.25 lakh has been provided as incentive to the farmers for digging Bore Wells in Budgam district during 2011-2012 and 2012-13.

The Minister for Agriculture, Mr. Ghulam Hassan Mir was replying to a question raised by Mr. Ali Mohammad Dar.

He further  said that Centrally Sponsored Schemes such as  Rashtryia Krishi Vikas Yojana, Horticulture Mission for North Eastern and Himalayan States, Integrated Scheme of Oil Seeds, Pulse and Oil palm and Maize, Support to State extension Programme for Extension Reforms, Seed Village Programme, National Food Security Mission, Promotion and Strengthening of Farm Mechanization through Training Testing and Demonstration and National Bamboo Mission are being implemented by the Agriculture Department during the current financial year..

The Minister said that the department has provided Rs. 29.98 Lakh as an incentive for Bore-Well in district Budgam during 2009-10, 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13 under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana.

137 ventilators available in Health Institutions: Taj

Minister for Medical Education, Mr. Taj Mohi-ud-Din replying to a question by Mohammad Muzaffar Parray informed the House that there are 137 ventilators in various hospitals in J&K including SKIMS, Soura, Srinagar, GMCs of Jammu, Srinagar and their associate Hospitals, District/sub-district and other Health Institutions of both the Divisions.

42579 refugee families residing in State: Sadhotra

Rs.5 lakh expended on Labour sarai, Anantnag

          Minister for Planning, Labour and Employment, Mr. Ajay Kumar Sadhotra, on behalf of Revenue Minister, replying to a question by Mr. Jahangir Hussain Mir informed the House that as many as 42579 refugee families are recorded in the State which include 26319 families from POK Refugees, 5764 families from West Pakistani refugees, 10115 families from Chhamb refugees and 381 families approximately from Burmese refugees.

          The Minister informed that there is no National Law on refugees, however, out of the 381 Burmese Refugee families, 351 families are in possession of UN’s High Commissioner of Refugees (UNHCR) cards and 30 families are without such cards.

          Mr Sadhotra further informed that the West Pakistan refugees have not been provided such facilities which were extended to other categories of refugees, as they are not permanent residents of Jammu and Kashmir State.

          Ghulam Nabi Monga raised supplementary on  the question.

          In reply to another question by Abdul Majeed Bhat, the Minister informed that an amount of Rs. 5.25 lakh has been expended for carrying out minor repairs on Labour Sarai Wanpoh, Anantnag.

The Minister said that the labour Sarai Wanpoh belonging to Labour Department was constructed for night stay of labourers as well as housing the office of Assistant Labour Commissioner, Anantnag.

The Assistant Labour Commissioner, Anantnag recently has sought permission for shifting the office in the said building which is presently housed in a rented building for which an amount of Rs. 17,000 is being paid as rent per month, he maintained.

Ban Lifted on extraction of Minor Forest Produce:  Altaf

JAMMU – Minister for Forests, Mian Altaf Ahmed while replying to a question raised by Ajat Shatru Singh said that exploitation of Minor Forest Produce (MFP) including Medicinal Plants except Guchies and Anardana was banned since 2004 adding that now the government has lifted the ban on the extraction of Minor Forest Produce from the demarcated forests of the State for all those species, which are not included in the schedule VI of Jammu and Kashmir Wild Life Protection Act-1978.

 The Minister further said that after lifting of the ban the department has initiated necessary process for sustainable extraction of some of the species, which are allowed under rules to generate employment and livelihood.  

Mr. G.Q. Pardesi, Jahangir Mir and Mr. B.R. Kundal raised the supplementaries to the question.     

Govt contemplating to change recruitment rules to recruit language teachers: Feroz

JAMMU :  Minister of State for Education Mr. Feroz Ahmad Khan replying to a question by Aga Syed Ahmad Rizvi in the Legislative Council informed that as many as 11 posts of Principals and 47 posts of lecturers in different disciplines are presently lying vacant in various Higher Secondary Schools of Kargil District.

The Minister informed that the department has elevated 156 Senior lecturers and Zonal Education Officers as In-charge Principals which has been challenged by some lecturers in the High Court.

Mr. Feroz further informed that vacancies of lecturers under direct quota have been referred to State Public Services Commission for selection of suitable candidates, adding that the vacancies under promotion quota would also be filled up shortly.

 Replying to another question by Master Noor Hussain, The Minister informed that presently, there is no separate cadre of subject specific teacher, including Urdu language. He said that the department has identified among General Line Teachers those having Urdu, as one of the subject at Graduation level and those teachers are being deployed in the schools of those areas, where Urdu is spoken and taught. The department is contemplating changes in the Recruitment Rules for recruiting language teachers in Primary, Upper primary and secondary Schools of State, he maintained.

The Minister further informed that no Middle and High School has been upgraded under RMSA in Jammu, Samba and Kathua district   during last three years.

Mr. Devender Singh Rana, Syed Rafiq Shah, Khalid Najeeb Suhrawardy, Jehangir Hussain Mir, Ghulam Qadir Pardesi and Sheikh Ghulam Rasool also raised supplementaries to the questions.

Govt providing financial, special assistance to Cooperative Societies– Dr. Manohar

The Minister for Cooperatives, Mr. Manohar Lal Sharma while replying to a question by Mr. Bashir Ahmed Magray said that Cooperatives Marketing Society Ltd Shahoora with its headquarter at Village Niloora, Block Pulwama, has remained associated with the distribution of essential commodities, including fertilizers, among its members in particular and the public in general in its area of operation spread over about 50 villages and the society has submitted a DPR for an amount of Rs. 20 lakh for availing funding under Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY), which is a Centrally Sponsored Scheme with 100% subsidy and no mortgage or collaterals are required for availing the assistance under the scheme. 

The Minister said that the department is providing financial assistance in the shape of managerial subsidy and special assistance to Cooperative Society for subsidising their cost of management and for business augmentation. He said the Cooperative Marketing Society Shohoora has been provided financial assistance out of plan funds as per criteria aggregating to Rs. 3.203 lakh during the financial year of 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 up to January 2014.

LOC Trade to resume Soon: Kichloo

The Director Industries and Commerce Kashmir and Deputy Commissioner Baramulla held many rounds of meetings with the officers on the other side of LOC to resolve the deadlock in the trade, as a result the PoK authorities agreed to accept their remaining trucks along with drivers and those of our side have also been allowed to cross with their trucks on 12.02. 2014 and the trade is likely to resume as per routine soon. 

The information was given by the Minister of State for Industries, Home, Mr. Sajad Ahmed Kichloo while replying to a question by Mr. Devender Singh Rana.

Mr. Kitchloo said that the Cross LoC Trade was started as a Confidence Building Measure (CBM) between India and Pakistan on 21.10.2008. The SOP was devised by the Ministry of Home Affairs which incorporated a list of 21 items to be traded across the LoC.

The Minister said that the cross LoC trade was going on as per routine till 16.01.2014, however, on 17.01.2014, goods from other side of LoC, 114 packets of Contraband substance were found hidden in almond bags loaded in a Truck, which was suspected to be a contraband item and the matter, was immediately brought to the notice of SDPO/SHO Uri who, in turn, informed Superintendent of Police, Baramulla. The S.P. Baramulla visited the spot along with the officials from Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL), who tested the material and it was found to be a narcotic substance.

Mr. Kitchloo said that under provision 9 of SOP in vogue for the conduct of cross LoC trade, SHO Uri seized the 114 packets. The said vehicle and the driver have also been detained by the police authorities for further investigation.

Mr. Kichloo said that in the backdrop of above incident, the officers on the other side of the LoC demanded release of Driver and the truck and refused to accept the truck, returning from TFC Salamabad and also did not allow 27 trucks that had crossed to PoK from this side.  Consequently, 48 trucks along with the drivers returned to TFC Salamabad and 27 trucks that had crossed to PoK on 17-01-2014 were stranded at TFC Chakoti.

 

Council-14

Budget discussion concludes in LC

JAMMU – Winding up the Budget Discussion in the Legislative Council, as many as 7 members participated in the discussions today.

Aga Syed Ahmad Rizvi complimented the Finance Minister on presenting a pro people budget. Appreciated the decision of creating New Administrative Units by the Government, he said it will benefit the people including people of Ladakh region. He said, the recent announcement of new Medical Colleges is a welcome step, however, Leh and Kargil which remain cut off for many months from rest of the State should also be provided new Medical and Engineering Colleges. He also called for enhancement in Funds allocation to Kargil under Tourism and other Sectors besides sanctioning of Mega Projects.

Devinder Singh Rana while complimenting the Finance Minister for having presented a progressive, forward looking and growth oriented budge, said that Mr Rather has shown prudence in financial management amidst Global and National slowdown. He said the Coalition Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has been able to create a suitable eco-system where peace and growth has taken root.

 Mr Rana mentioned that despite difficult circumstances, the Finance Minister has done a commendable job adding that performance under VAT, Revenue generation, monitoring and reforms is clear to see. He, however, opposed any amnesty to be given to VAT defaulters besides asking for curbing the Power deficit.  He also called for some relief to BPL Families in case of electricity Tariff besides enhancement in Pension of War Widows and Old aged Persons under various Schemes.

Dr Bashir Ahmed Veeri appreciated the Finance Minister for presenting his successive 6th people friendly and growth oriented budget. He said massive infrastructural development across all major sectors has taken place in the State and economy is on sound footing. He, however, called for energy auditing system to be introduced besides promoting Energy Savers and phasing out traditional bulbs. He also drew attention towards the need for reforms in the Electricity Transmission and Distribution System.

Syed Mohammad Rafiq Shah while participating in the budget discussion welcomed the budget proposals presented by the Finance Minister. He said the rich natural resources of the State need to be properly utilised and exploited for the benefit of the people besides Government should look into wider avenues to provide skill to the youth of the State and make them employable. He also called for special provisions for upliftment of Gujjar Bakerwal and Pahari sections of the Society.

G N Monga while complimenting the Finance Minister for presenting people friendly budget, hailed him for continuing and enhancing budgetary provisions for women’s empowerment in the State. He welcomed the Government initiatives for return of Kashmiri Migrants besides bringing Sarpanchs, Panchs under insurance Cover. He also welcomed the initiatives taken by the Government to tap huge Hydel Power Potential available in the State.

Sheikh Gulam Rasool while appreciating Mr Rather, described him as a highly competent Finance Minister, who despite inheriting difficult problems and financial limitations has been able to achieve set targets. He described the budget presented by the Finance Minister as pragmatic and positive. He said the efficiency shown by the Finance Minister in handling the financial matters in the budget are unmatchable.

He said power sector has been given due consideration adding future power generation capacity of the state by the new projects will take the state to new heights. He said concerted efforts are also required to be made to bring Hydel Power projects back besides State needs to adopt a futuristic approach to manage finances. He also asked for taking corrective measures to allay the concerns on issue related to works without tenders besides taking necessary steps to reform and rationalise revenue staff structure.

S. Dharambir Singh Oberoi applauded the Finance Minister for presenting a pro people, tax free budget. He said State has been able to maintain financial discipline and tempo of progress and development. He called for plugging all tax leakages particularly at Lakhanpur.

 

Business in LC

Execution of works without codal formalities shall not be allowed: Rather

Says state’s constitutional guarantees to be safeguarded while implementing GST

          JAMMU : Asserting that the State has performed extremely well on account of the internal resource mobilization during the last 5 years, the Minister for Finance and Ladakh Affairs, Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather today said that in comparison to the total tax collection of Rs. 2683 crore during 2008-2009, it has increased to Rs. 6700 crore in a short span of last 5 years, signifying an overall growth of more than two and half times. He said the State’s tax revenue is estimated to reach Rs. 7500 crore during next fiscal. The annual growth rate comes to nearly 30% which is a record performance by any standards.

In his one and half hour long reply to the debate on budget for next fiscal in the House of Elders today, the Finance Minister said that the fact remains that the impressive growth in tax revenue during last five years has been attained without putting new tax burden on the shoulders of the common man. He said State’s Non-Tax Revenue too has shown similar impressive growth. In comparison to the total non-tax revenue collection of Rs. 837 crore made during the year 2008-2009, the last year’s actual realization was to the tune of Rs. 2,160 crore.

Mr. Rather said that when the present coalition government took office in 2009, the State was confronted with a mounting fiscal deficit beyond 7.5 much beyond mandatory limits under Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM), Act. He said, soon after taking over as the Finance Minister of the State in 2009, he implemented short term, medium term and long term structural reforms in the State Finances, besides taking several budget control measures and plugging loopholes in the tax collection system, which paid rich dividends. The fiscal deficit has now come down to 3.91% (QE) during the last fiscal against given target of 4.2%.

Mr. Rather said that our current economic growth rate is estimated at 5.88% which is better than growth rate at national level which is 4.8%. He added that fiscal goals laid down by the 13th Finance Commission about gradual lowering of ratio of our outstanding debt to our GSDP have remained well within the limits. He said all these achievements were registered despite burgeoning salary and pension Bills which have increased from Rs. 5925 crore in 2008-2009 to Rs. 15500 crore during the current fiscal and estimated to further increase to Rs. 18500 crore during the next fiscal.

Responding to an observation, Mr. Rather said no old bill is pending for payment in any government Treasury of the State and the schedule of Bill Payment in treasuries is being monitored on daily basis. He said that third installment on account of the 6th pay commission arrears to the pensioners were pending for want of reconciliation work, would be paid shortly. He said the element of accountability and transparency in treasuries has increased and stringent action is taken against defaulting Treasury Officers if any violation of instructions of the Finance Department comes to notice. He said all the treasuries of State are being computerized in a phased manner to provide on- line facilities to the people and to reduce peoples direct interface with the employees adding that Civil Secretariat Treasury and Saddar Treasuries at Srinagar and Jammu have already been fully computerized. He said 59000 Daily Wagers have already been regularized who have completed 7 years of their services upto 1994. Similarly the legislation made for regularization of Contractual employees is another land mark and first of its kind initiative in the country, taken by the coalition government.

Mr. Rather expressed concern over the reports that some development works have been done without calling tenders and without following Codel formalities, adding that stringent corrective measures shall have to be taken to check this trend. “Officers found involved in this wrong practice shall have to face its consequences,” Mr. Rather said

Mr. Rather said that the State’s special status under the Union Constitution shall be safeguarded while implementing proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime at the national level whenever such a decision is taken. He said GST is a latest tax reform through which Centre envisages to subsume all the tax in a single structure adding that J&K is also a strong votary to this new tax reform without tempering its constitutional rights.

Responding to suggestions of some members, Mr. Rather said that introduction of New Pension Scheme is a major reform measure as it will ensure that employees recruited now shall receive superannuation benefits and regular monthly pension in a structured manner outside the government treasuries adding that posterity shall be reaping the benefits of this historical measure. He said the Pension Bill which was just Rs. 938 crore in 2005-06 is likely to reach to Rs. 4000 crore next year. The number of pensioners has reached to 1.61 lakh persons. He said that likewise stipendiary mode of recruitment will facilitate engagement of large number of educated youth while helping to curb the expenditure to some extent.

Mr. Rather also enumerated employment measures taken under SKEWPY for the betterment of the educated youth adding that an amount of Rs. 98 crore has been paid as Seed Capital Fund so far establishment of over 3600 units with investment of Rs. 403 crore and employment potential of 16634 persons.

Mr. Rather while quoting year wise figures said that the plan expenditure during last five years has been quite upto the mark adding that it was 96% in 2009-10, 96.13% in 2010-11 and 96.32% in 2011-12. The plan expenditure during 2012-13 went down because due to overall short fall in realizing targets of Central taxes, the State was given Rs. 215 crore short. “In addition, State was not provided Rs. 451 crore as Special Plan Assistance.

About gender budgeting, Mr. Rather said that a grant of Rs. 3.50 crore has been earmarked in the budget in favour of J&K Women Development Corporation (JKWDC) for setting up of 2200 Self Help Groups, 100 in each district to benefit 44000 women.

Mr. Rather said that there has been a steady growth in the GSDP of the state during the last five years adding that in comparison to the GSDP figure of Rs. 42314.84 crore at current prices during the year 2008-09, the GSDP reached Rs. 75574.31 crore last year as per Quick Estimate, and is estimated to reach Rs. 87318.72 crore during the current financial year as per Advance Estimate. It has more than doubled during the last five years. The current year’s rate of growth over the last year’s figure works to 15.54%.

“At constant prices, the GSDP was Rs. 34664.22 crore in the year 2008-09. It is now estimated at Rs. 45399.45 crore for the current financial year, indicating an increase of about 31%”, Mr. Rather added. He said the state’s growth rate has been better as compared to all India level.

Mr. Rather said the performance of the State, on account of tax collection and budget management, has been lauded by every relevant forums at the national level including Planning Commission of India (PC), Finance Commission, Union Finance Ministry and the State’s Principal Accountant General. “Even the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India has in unambiguous terms patted the State for its internal resources mobilization initiatives”, Mr. Rather added.

Briefing about the tax concessions given to various sectors, Mr. Rather said that the agriculture sector has been made more or less tax free. He said both VAT and Toll Tax on fertilizers, fungicides and weedicides, which were considered important agriculture inputs, have been exempted. He said tax concessions granted to Industry, trade and tourism sectors shall continue for the next fiscal. He said a provision of Rs. 3 crore has been made in the Budget for providing financial assistance for the marriage of orphan girls belonging to BPL families whereas the coverage of Beti Anmol has been extended from existing 97 blocks to all blocks. “The amount payable under the scheme has been increased from Rs. 5000 to Rs. 10,000 under this scheme, “Mr. Rather added.

Earlier, in his address, Mr Rather appreciated all the members for taking part in the budget discussion adding that quality of debate and discussion has always been good in the upper house. He said valuable suggestions by the members have been noted and in future also during the course of the year, valuable suggestions of the members will be welcomed.