A year after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was revoked, the State administration is yet to create new government jobs in the newly created Union Territory (UT) The Hindu reported.
As many as 10,000 vacancies at all levels are to be filled in Phase-1, a senior government official said. The recruitment drive had been badly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, he pointed out.
On August 5 last, Union Home Minister Amit Shah moved two bills in the Rajya Sabha to revoke the special status of J&K under Article 370 of the Constitution and to downgrade and bifurcate the State into J&K and Ladakh UTs.
During discussion in the Upper House, he said Article 370 was an impediment to J&K’s development. The erstwhile State was placed under unprecedented lockdown in the run-up to the introduction of the legislation. 4G Internet connectivity is yet to be restored in J&K.
J&K has been under Central rule since June 2018 after the BJP withdrew support to the People’s Democratic Party government led by Mehbooba Mufti. The 87-member Assembly was dissolved on November 21 the same year.
Is the removal of special status for J&K justified?
According to Ministry of Home Affairs’ (MHA) reply to a parliamentary panel on February 18, there are over 84,000 vacancies in J&K, of which 22,078 vacancies pertain to Class IV employees, 54,375 to non-gazettted and 7,552 vacancies at gazetted level.
As per a latest MHA data, as many as 168 Memorandum of Understandings (MoU) worth ₹13,600 crores have been signed for investments in J&K.
“The pace of recruitment in government sector slowed largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before that, the UT officially came into existence only on October 31 last year, the day of the reorganisation,” said a senior government official.
A new land policy for purchase and acquisition of land was under construction and the administration had identified 6,000 acres of government land for setting up industries, the official stated.
Scrapping J&K’s special status is the wrong way to an end
The process of land registration had been transferred from judiciary to the executive and an independent department of registration has been created, the official added.
₹ 40,000 crore loss
Sheikh Ashiq Ahmed, President of Kashmir Chamber of Commerce, however, said that since August 5, trade and businesses in J&K had suffered a loss of ₹ 40,000 crore.
“The Rs 40,000 crore loss is a conservative estimate from 10 districts in Kashmir division. Our main concern is unemployment of lakhs of youth. The lockdown was lifted December onward and we had begun picking up pace when the pandemic struck in March,” Mr. Ahmed told The Hindu.
He said a delegation of businessmen were given assurances by Home Minister Amit Shah and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in March but nothing concrete had been offered so far. “We are a small economy, contributing only .77% to the GDP. We require hand-holding from the government as the situation is grim in every sector,” he added.
From the archives: The Hindu’s report on the President’s Order in J&K, 1954
The official said the ₹ 80,000-crore Prime Minister Development Package (PDMP) that was announced in 2015 had been accelerated, and out of total 63 projects, 17 have been completed so far.
“In June 2018, only 7 projects of the PDMP were complete. By June this year, 17 have been completed and 49% funds exhausted,” said the official. The J&K Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) had been set up to expedite incomplete projects pending for more than a decade and of the 2,273 projects (worth ₹5979 crore), 506 were complete, with another 963 projects (worth ₹2256 crores) expected to be completed by March, 2021.
The official said the sanctioned houses under Prime Minister Awas Yojana had increased from 41% in March 2019 to 92% of the target sanctioned in June 2020. Of the sanctioned houses, 72,730 houses were in urban areas and 77, 252 in rural areas reported The Hindu.