Director post assigned to 2 officers 4 times since June
Staff unpaid since May; offices without stationary
SRINAGAR, Oct 13: Half-hearted approach of the government towards engaging the unemployed youth of Jammu and Kashmir has pushed Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) towards uncertainty.
The seriousness of the matter can be gauged from the fact that the JKEDI has seen five administrative orders since June this year with regard to the position of the Head of the institution. These orders issued by the General Administration Department either posted or assigned two senior JKAS officers the charge of Executive Director, however, with no Drawing and Disbursing Powers from time to time.
In compliance to the GAD orders, the two JKAS officers, Surat Singh and Mehmood Ahmad Shah have been swinging like a pendulum since the last five months and actually doing no official work; much to the annoyance of the unemployed youth trained by the institute.
Surat Singh, was posted as Executive Director JKEDI in June this year, almost 17 days after G M Dar retired as Executive Director of the institute on May 31, 2021. Though Dar was assigned with the DDO powers, Singh on his joining denied having any such authority and on this pretext he didn’t do anything practically as head of the institute.
Later Singh proceeded on leave for sometime and the charge of Executive Director was assigned to Mehmood Shah, in addition to his own responsibilities as Director Handicrafts and Handlooms.
Ironically, the order issued by GAD for Shah’s additional charge placed a rider on it. The order issued vide No. 732-JK (GAD) of 2021, Dated: 14-08-21 in this regard directed Shah to take charge of the routine work “avoiding major decisions”.
But still neither the pending salary of the employees was released nor did the training activities resume at JKEDI. Further the cases of the trained candidates continued to remain on hold for reasons better known to the administration.
Pertinently the JKEDI employees are working without salaries since May 2021 after the retirement of G M Dar as its Executive Director.
The GAD issued another order on September 18, 2021 wherein Surat Singh was assigned additional charge of Director JKEDI, a post practically lying vacant since its founding director Mohammad Ismail Parray retired in the year 2018.
Though the institute employees and the unemployed youth expected some respite from the crisis, things only worsened as Singh preferred to remain out of touch.
“He seemed to be really uninterested in this assignment. He would hardly attend the office and would frequently switch off his phone when the employees tried to reach him for redressal of their grievances. He did not sign the salary advice even when he was given the charge of Director JKEDI and only added to our miseries. He was also reluctant to approve the release of installments in favour of the students under the Educational Loan scheme,” a group of employees alleged while talking to the Kashmir Despatch.
They said that during his tenure, a flagship entrepreneurship development scheme named Seed Capital Fund Scheme being implemented by JKEDI was taken out of its kitty.
The government assigned JKEDI the job of preparing the Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) under Tejaswini Scheme (for self employment of females) to JKEDI. However, the file and applications submitted by the applicants are gathering dust due to non seriousness on part of the JKEDI Directorate.
“Former Director JKEDI, Surat Singh literally halted the entire process. He preferred silence over the matter and now District Officers of JKEDI are facing the heat at the hands of the concerned District Development Commissioners who find it hard to believe that the applications are lying unattended,” said a senior officer, wishing anonymity.
On October 13, 2021 the GAD issued another order relieving Singh of his duties as Director and Executive Director JKEDI. The charges have been again assigned to Mehmood Ahmad Shah in addition to his own responsibilities as Director H&H, Kashmir till further orders.
“Though during his earlier brief stint at JKEDI, Shah did make some decisions especially the release of loan installments under the Education Loan scheme but he could not address the root cause of the issues concerning the once premier institute of entrepreneurship development and youth engagement in the erstwhile Jammu and Kashmir. It is expected that Shah would take the desired interest in addressing the issues concerning the institute and make it vibrant in all aspects,” the employees said.
The institute has been in doldrums since the last three years as funds under schemes like SCFS, Youth Startup Loan Scheme of the UT government have not been released. In addition the J&K government has also not released the State share under the two Centrally Sponsored Schemes for the minorities.
As the situation of overall functioning and affairs of the institute is worsening each day, the unemployed youth are now urging the government to either shut down the institute and put the infrastructure and manpower to some productive use or make sincere efforts to revive JKEDI to its full glory so that it serves the purpose.
“The approach of the authorities is highly frustrating. What is the need of assigning the charge to the officers who fail to deliver. This is a mockery of the system and unemployed youth are bearing the brunt. Let the government take a final call so that we don’t pin false hopes on this institute. When the employees haven’t been paid for the last six months, how do we expect them to discharge their professional duties,” said Altaf Hussain, a candidate who has received training under SCFS.
JKEDI has its head office at Sempora, Pampore, a regional centre at Industrial Estate Baribrahmna, Jammu and district centres across Jammu and Kashmir. However, the situation has turned so ugly that not even A4 paper is available with its offices, not to talk of other facilities.