Opposition ups ante against CS

SYED BASHARAT. Dated: 10/5/2012 1:26:15 AM

Dispose cases in need of govt clearance within 2 months: Speaker to Govt

SRINAGAR, Oct 4: The State Legislative Assembly today witnessed pandemonium over delay in forest clearance mandatory for various developmental projects sanctioned under centrally sponsored schemes in Jammu and Kashmir.
Cutting across party lines, almost all the opposition parties expressed dissatisfaction over the ‘delay’ caused by standing committee on forest clearance chaired by Chief Secretary (CS) vis-à-vis issuance of No Objection Certificates (NOCs) resulting in failure of centrally sponsored projects worth crores of rupees.
The issue surfaced during the question asked by National Conference leader and MLA Handwara, Choudhry Mohammad Ramzan, who sought reply from the government on an irrigation scheme worth Rs 3 Crores pending completion in his constituency.
“Whether it is a fact that during his tour to Handwara constituency last year, the honourable minister for PHE and irrigation had directed the officers of the department to complete expeditiously the Kandi irrigation lift scheme under construction since last 20 years; if so, the present status of the scheme and the financial achievements made in this regard sofar,” asked MLA Handwara.
On this Taj Mohi-u-Din, the minister for PHE and irrigation gave a detailed reply saying that most of its (Kandi lift irrigations scheme) main components like construction of pump house, laying of rising mains, inlet chambers and earthen channel stands completed. “The scheme was taken up at estimated cost of Rs 300 Lakhs. …thus the cumulative expenditure upto March 2012 is of the order of Rs 287.42 Crores,” the minister replied.
During his reply, when Taj tried to satisfy Ramzan by saying that completion of the project was delayed because of forest clearance, Harsh Dev Singh, former minister and Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) MLA stood up alleging that the chief secretary who heads the standing committee on forest clearance was delaying all the developmental projects “unnecessarily”.
Besides, independent MLA Er Sheikh Abdul Rashid, other MLAs representing BJP, PDP, and Congress also stood up expressed serious reservation over the functioning of standing committee on forest clearance headed by the chief secretary.
Pointing to the delay caused in a Rs 16 Crore road project under PMGSY in his constituency, Harsh Dev Singh accused Chief Secretary Madhav Lal of “intentionally” refusing forest clearance in case of Parla-Chakal-Balota-Chigla road project.
He was seconded by majority of opposition MLAs who referred to various pending road construction projects in their respective constituencies. “It is only because of negative attitude of the chief secretary that the cases approved by the Government of India that need No Objection Certificates (NOCs) from the standing committee on forest clearance are being rejected without any reason. No decision is being taken on these files. The road project under PMGSY in my constituency is being delayed for the last two years for pending forest clearance. Not only costs will escalate but the money allocated for these projects will lapse,” Harsh Dev Singh said, while raising slogans against the chief secretary. Mohammad Sharief Niaz, the Congress MLA also agreed with Harsh Dev Singh’s viewpoint saying a road project in his constituency was also pending for want of forest clearance. Many other MLAs from different opposition parties also joined sloganeering against the Chief Secretary.
Trying to pacify the agitating MLAs, the Speaker Mohammad Akbar Lone, directed the government to clear all the cases pending for want of forest clearance within two months. However, the direction did not satisfy the protesting MLAs. The Speaker asked the agitating MLAs to observe silence and take their seats.
Taj Mohi-u-Din faced an embarrassing moment when he referred to construction of irrigation tanks in Rajwar area of Handwara which was corrected by Ramzan who pointed out to the wrong information provided by his department against his question. “I am sorry you have been let down by your department. Your department has not provided you relevant information,” Ramzan said while referring to his question about 11 irrigation tanks to be constructed in Kandi areas which are yet to be cleared under TAC-12 though the same stands approved in AIBP plan. “I assure you that I will pull up the department for this mistake,” Taj promised Ramzan.



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