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.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

RTI Exposes Politicians

The Right to Information (RTI) exposes politicians unwilling to pay their fair share for consuming electricity in their private homes

Pay Paltry Bills For Pvt Houses, Huge Amounts For Govt Bungalows 

Akshay Azad (Greater Kashmir)

Jammu: The information furnished in response to a Right to Information (RTI) application has revealed shocking inconsistencies in the tariff and power consumption of the private and official residences of the ministers, legislators and the functionaries of the Power Development Department (PDD), who pay paltry bills for private houses.

Explicitly showing how the political bosses and the PDD functionaries are indulging in power pilferage, the power consumption at their private houses ranges between 0.5 Kilo Watts (KW) to 2 KWs with annual tariff bills in thousands, while for official residences it is between 10 to 30 k watts with the bills running in lakhs.

Starting from Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, who holds the PDD portfolio, has consumed 190512 units of power worth Rs. 5,88540 at his official bungalow in two years, between 1-4-2010 to 31-3-2012, but at his private residence the annual consumption is 6545 units.

The convener of the RTI Movement Balvinder Singh told a news conference here that these figures were furnished by PDD in response to an RTI application filed by Sangarsh RTI Movement.

The power connection for private house of the minister for Social Welfare, Sakina Itoo, has only 0.7 KW load with a flat rate of Rs 317 per month, but at her government accommodation she has paid Rs 4,47210 for consuming 1,45248 units of power during past two years.

Similarly, the Minister for Public Enterprises, Peerzada Muhammad Sayeed has a load of 0.5 KW for his private house and has paid Rs 3166 as tariff for two years, but at his government Bungalow, the load shown is 30 KW with a consumption of 1,90512 units worth Rs 5,88540, during the same period.

The RTI reply further reveals that Ghulam Hassan Mir has 2 KW’s load and has paid only Rs. 1446 for consuming power at his private house, presently with CRPF, but when it comes to government accommodation, he has consumed 1,45248 units of power worth Rs. 4,47210.

Likewise, the Minister Aga Syed Rahullah has shown a load of 1 KW at his private residence, while it is 18 KW at government bungalow and has consumed 1,12920 units of power worth Rs. 3,46266,the reply revealed. The reply further maintains that speaker Legislative Assembly Muhammad Akbar Lone pays flat rate at his private residence , while he has consumed 1,19400 units of power worth Rs. 3,66468 at his government bungalow.

For MLA Hakim Muhammad Yasin, the actual load at his private residence is 1 KW but at government bungalow the load shown is 10 KWs with 1,33500 units consumption worth Rs. 3,47200.

Likewise majority of legislators have shown meager load at their private houses and in papers majority of them were not using any geysers and air conditioners, while some of the ministers are also having two connections against the policy of PDD.

“Legislator Moulvi Iftihkar Hussain has shown using 5 geysers and 8 ACs, Jagdish Raj Spolia one AC, Bashir Ahmed Lone one geyser, Ali Muhammad Sagar two ACs, Balwant Singh Mankotia one each AC and geyser, MLC Subash Chander one AC” the reply revealed. Surprisingly, except these legislators others have not mentioned anything about the ACs and the Geysers they use.

The RTI activists, appealed Chief Minister Omar Abdullah to give one time amnesty or some concessions to citizens to settle their power bills and in future ensure proper realization of power tariff.

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