Sham versus Taj spat on flood waters

blame game

BY U4Uvoice

Jammu: Health & Medical Education Minister Taj Mohiuddin has launched a frontal attack on PHE minister Sham Lal Sharma. Taj has accused Sharma of stopping dredging works in the Kashmir province thereby aggravating the flood situation. It bears mention here that when Omar Abdullah took over as chief minister of the state on January 5, 2009, Taj was allotted the PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control ministry, considered the most lucrative due to huge funds that come to it. Later, in January 2013, Sham Lal Sharma succeeded Taj in the PHE ministry when the Congress leadership decided to clip the latter’s wings. First things first. As it happened, there is tremendous bitterness and acrimony between Taj and Sham since that day. This does not mean that they were friends earlier! When the ministry of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control was under Taj, several initiatives were taken, particularly in the I&FC department, which had remained largely neglected for a couple of decades. When we talk of the I&FC being neglected, we mean that the requisite leadership to give it a policy direction was simply not there. The I&FC was always considered lesser than the PHE department as more, and more, funds went to later department. So much so that there was a jockeying for the position of the Chief Engineer in PHE departments of the two regions, Jammu region and the Kashmir valley. Between the PHE and the I&FC departments, headed invariably by the same minister, so far, the latter has remained largely neglected. This because the engineers posted in the I&FC are invariably trying to get posted to the PHE! As a department which could prove hugely important in a crisis situation like the one being witnessed now, throughout the state, the importance of the I&FC just cannot be stressed enough. However, the I&FC is a department which remains, comparatively, away from the public eyes as its major works are carried out during peak summer months, much in advance of the rains when their worth becomes known. The worth of the flood-protection works becomes known only when the floods hit! Coming back to Sham versus Taj story, it appears so bitter that the latter has chosen to hit Sham at this juncture when the whole state is facing the brunt of the floods. Taj has been saying that if it were not for Sham stopping dredging works, the flood fury in Kashmir would be infinitely lesser. The merit of Taj’s allegations is difficult to fathom right now because the entire state machinery is trying to cope with the developing situation. Dissecting the allegations threadbare is not possible because that needs time, and information, based on which facts and fiction can be segregated. The allegations have sure fuelled the Jammu versus Kashmir debate at some level. Since Sham belongs to the Jammu region, and Taj to Kashmir, there are enough people in the Valley ready to believe what Taj is alleging. To offset the allegations, there are any number of people in Jammu who will, and are, leveling counter-allegations against Taj that he had made the PHE, I&FC a personal fief. After losing the lucrative department to Sham, Taj could not have done anything else. It is interesting that in this utterly chaotic situation, the opposition leaders, whether from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) or the Bharatiya Janata Party, have chosen to stay mum on the controversy. Some opposition leaders have been saying that they don’t need to attack the Congress since the twofactions are doing everything to harm one another. (To be continued)