Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Indiscipline Begins at Minister's Electrical Meter

Junaid says the J&K Power Development Department (PDD) has a novel approach of throwung brickbats to commoners, bouquets to VIPs

J&K Mantris, Babus, Netas do Not Pay Electricity Bills

Syed Junaid Hashmi (Early Times)

Jammu: Brickbats for commoners and bouquets for us! Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats seem to be following this adage in Jammu and Kashmir when it comes to paying electricity dues.

What to talk of paying, they prefer not to even inquire about their pending bills. It is this part of democratic set-up which frames stringent rules and regulations for commoners, accuses them of power theft and illegal connections, wails over inability to control transmission and distribution losses and above all, threatens to disconnect their power connections if they do not pay their bills regularly.

It is not known how they get their salaries released without submitting their electricity bills. Reply to a cut motion, copy of which is with Early Times reveals that Ministers, legislators and bureaucrats living in posh bungalows and flats do not pay electricity dues both in Jammu as well as in Kashmir. Despite living luxurious life, they prefer to talk about illegal connections of connection rather then paying their pending electricity dues.

Besides, such is the non-seriousness on the part of the government that even with Chief Minister (CM) heading the department, pending dues have accumulated and gone over Rs. 3 crore. Besides, every time when the Assembly session is held in the state, one legislator or the other submits a question inquiring about amount which various departments, ministers, legislators and bureaucrats owe to the Power Development Department (PDD). The answer always makes a news item.

As per the figures presented by the government in reply to a cut motion, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has more than Rs. 556277 outstanding against him. Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand owes a whopping Rs. 49, 49 565 (around Rs. 50 lakh) to the Power Development Department (PDD). The two advisors of Chief Minister namely Devinder Singh Rana and Mubarak Gul together have to pay more than Rs. 7.43 lakh to the PDD.

Chief Secretary Madhav Lal, who took from S.S. Kapur has shifted to the same bungalow was earlier with Kapoor. An outstanding of Rs 9.750 lakh has been shown against the name of Madhav Lal. Former Chief Minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed has a total outstanding of Rs. 4.56 lakh against him, which has so far not been cleared.

Figures reveal that Speaker Legislative Assembly Muhammad Akbar Lone has Rs. 4.34 lakh pending arrears. Senior PDP leader Muzaffar Hussain Beig also has to pay an electricity arrear of Rs 7.830 lakh to Power Development Department in respect of his accommodations in Jammu. Similarly Minister for Tourism, Rigzin Jora owes Rs 11.389 lakhs to the PDD for the accommodations both at Jammu and in Srinagar.

Similarly, amount of power tariff due from Sakina Ittoo, Tara Chand, Hakim Mohd Yasin, Bashir Ahmed Naaz, Khem Lata Wakhloo, Shamima Firdous, Ghulam Ahmed Mir, Thakur Puran Singh and Romesh Chander Sharma is more than Rs five lakhs each. Amount due from Minister of State (MOS) Cooperative Dr Manohar Lal is Rs 6. 58 lakh for Kashmir while he has to pay just Rs. 190 to PDD in Jammu.

Amount due from Justice NA Kakroo, MS Bashir and Tanvir Jahan is Rs 9.50 lakh, Rs 6.14 lakh and Rs 6.4 lakh, respectively. Meanwhile, even as the PDD leaves no stone unturned in recovering electricity fee from the common man, it has failed to recover whooping amount of Rs 774.60 crore from other government departments.

Public Health Engineering (PHE) department in Kashmir is biggest defaulter and owes Rs. 50.88 crore to the PDD followed by Irrigation and Flood Control department which has a total outstanding of Rs 139.70 crore. In Jammu division, Lift Irrigation department still has to clear Rs 57.56 crore while PHE has total outstanding of Rs 437.42 crore pending against it.

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