Probe sought in wrongs in PHE, Irrigation, F&C Deptts

Sham smells rat, Rana demands probe by House Committee

JAMMU: Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Council on Tuesday witnessed a piquant situation with ruling allies differing over probe by a House Committee into the alleged bungling in the Public Health Engineering besides Irrigation and Flood Control Departments.

The situation arose when Minister for PHE and Irrigation, Mr Sham Lal Sharma pointed out large scale bungling and mess prevailing in the departments under his charge, saying that he has been striving to clear it ever since taking over the ministry.

Sharma was winding up discussions on the grants of his departments in the Council.

The Ministry elaborately dwelt how he has been setting the things right in the departments as he did in the Health Department he headed before shifting to the new ministry.

Intervening, Member Legislative Council, Devender Singh Rana expressed concern over the revelations made by the Minister with regard to corruption and vested interest developed by some in these departments and sought constitution of a House Committee to probe into the grey areas. This created stir in the House with some Congress members not favouring setting up of a House panel on the premise that the Minister had already constituted departmental committees to look into the issues.

Rana said  the Minister is a responsible person and therefore the disclosures made by him cannot be taken casually. He said the Minister’s efforts in enforcing accountability and transparency are inspiring and appreciable. “Since the Minister has raised these issue in the House, we all share his concern”, he said adding that the House cannot remain mute spectator to the wrong doings in Public Health Engineering and allied departments and therefore a thorough probe has become imperative. This evoked sharp reaction by some members of the junior coalition partner in the ministry headed by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah.

Rana sad the Minister has brought on record certain specific allegations of bunglings, corruption and nepotism in the department and in view of that it had become incumbent on the House to go deep into the working of the department over the last decade and understand wrongdoings and expose the corrupt persons and ensure that the corrupt are duly punished and an example is created. He said all the Members of the House  are consenscious and responsible and as such it is necessary that whatever has been brought on the floor of the House by the Hon’ble Minister about the working of his department should be properly probed, the house is informed about the details and thereby the public at large.

Amid pleas by the Congress members, the Minister for Finance Mr Abdul Rahim Rather intervened and said that Mr Sharma is a senior Minister, who has constituted committee and the House should wait for their findings and said that the constitution of the House committee will stall the working of the department.

On the suggestions of the Minister for Finance Mr. Abdul Rahim Rather that constitution of such a committee would stall the working of the department,  Rana said that he had highest regards for Rather Sahib but begged to differ with him because if the public money has been looted by corrupt means than it should be exposed even if it tantamounts to shutting down the department for the next two months.

Rana said Mr. Sham Lal Sharma has raised a voice against corruption and entire House must rise to the occasion and make this a test case for others.

After the Members deliberated over this issue in detail, Chairman Mr Amrit Malhotra said that he will examine the demand for setting up of a House Committee and give his decision on Thursday, when the House meets next.

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