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PostSubject: GK Editorial   Tue May 19, 2009 2:21 am

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Bottleneck Bureaucracy

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Chief Minister Omar Abdullah assumed office four months back but his real innings starts now. The bitter reality is that the presence of his government is yet to be felt. Though there is a lot of drum beating about development by a section of officers who for their maneuverability have been great survivors in all regimes but the truth is that the situation on the developmental front in the state is disgusting. The development works that were stopped during the governorís rule by and large continue to remain on a halt. There is no parallel for the awful condition of roads in and around Srinagar city. Fact is that the roads were in a better condition than they are today when Kashmir was in the grip of militancy. The city with its very big potholes and huge craters looks like a bombarded city. It is not only the roads that tell stories of apathy, so is true about availability of drinking water, conditions of hospitals, and other essential services. The Children Hospital barely half a furlong from the Chief Ministerís residence is a classical example negligence of the health sector. So is true about educational institution more particularly in the outskirts of the city and rural areas where truancy of teachers has become a synonym for the efficiency of the department. In this dismal situation the only streak of hope is that the Chief Minister is conscious of the ground realities and it would be difficult for the arm chair bureaucracy to hoodwink him. He sounded frank and positive while talking to his party workers who had gathered at his residence for felicitating him on the victory of the National Conference in the Lok Sabha elections. His frank admissions about the messy development situation more particularly the condition of roads, scarcity of water, failed public distribution system sufficiently suggested that he was not living in ivory towers but was aware about the ground situation. He undoubtedly has a desire and an urge for transforming Jammu and Kashmir into a modern self-sufficient and self-sustaining state but for translating it into reality he would have to ensure accountability at all levels in his administration. He would have to purge administration of the corrupt and deadwood and allow a bigger role in administration to new crop of officers with greater enthusiasm and imagination. The administration more particularly Planning, Development and Finance departments will have to be redeemed of the bottleneck bureaucracy.
Chief Minister sees a good omen for development of the state in the return of UPA government in New Delhi. He has pinned big hopes with Prime Minister Manmohan for making the state of Jammu and Kashmir a model state. Without prejudicing the optimism of young Chief Minister the historic reality is that central government has been promising and announcing packages after package for the development of the state from mid eighties but in the ultimate these packages have proved nothing but jugglery of figures. Nothing substantial has been done by New Delhi for putting the state economy on a sound pedestal. No attention has been paid to infrastructure and institution building in the state. Most of the announcements made by the political leadership for putting the state back on the rails of development have more than often failed at the counter of the Planning Commission under the excuse of the state not utilizing the funds in accordance with the guidelines and norms laid down it. The Chief Minister instead of asking for doles from New Delhi should make a rightful claim for its share from the Central government. He needs to tell the centre government in clear terms that the development of the state has been immensely suffering for the Indus Water Treaty signed by New Delhi and Islamabad to the advantage of Punjab and to the disadvantage of Jammu and Kashmir. It has been but for this treaty that Punjab emerged as granary of India and the dependability of Kashmir even for agriculture produce multiplied. The state should agitate before New Delhi for compensation from mid-fifties for surrendering of Kashmir waters for the development of Punjab. It should also advocate with full force for returning of all power projects to the state and payment of all security related expenditures. Ostensibly, Chief Minister has full five and a half years to go. Instead of working on the dotted lines of bottle neck bureaucracy he needs to involve some economists and technocrats for drafting a blue print for changing face of the state
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