All but 2 MLAs in previous Assembly also keep their official residences
Despite losing their status as ministers, all the previous Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-Peoples Conference (PC) ministers are yet to evacuate the official ministerial accommodations in both the capital cities of Srinagar and Jammu while the Members of the Legislative Assembly from all the political parties, barring a few also continue to occupy the official residences assigned to them as legislators.
According to the Eviction of Unauthorised Occupants (EUO) Act of the State, every minister has been provided with an official bungalow in Jammu as well as Srinagar, which they had to evacuate within a month.
As per sources in the Estates department, the former PDP-BJP ministers had been granted relaxation by the then Governor to continue in their official accommodations till the assembly was in suspended animation.
Similarly, all the 87 legislators of the recently dissolved assembly have at least one official accommodation allotted in either Jammu or Srinagar and even at both places in case of certain MLAs.
The Estates department has allotted more than 200-odd official accommodations under the names of MLAs from the previous assembly, which the former lawmakers would now have to evacuate within a month under the EUO Act.
Last month, following the Governor’s directions, the Estates department had given an option to the former MLAs to opt for an official accommodation either in Jammu or in Srinagar, which however did not go well with the lawmakers across parties who started castigating the administration for it.
A senior official in the administration, wishing anonymity, told Rising Kashmir that many lawmakers started issuing statements alleging that their security was being compromised.
“They don’t represent the public now. Morally, they should evacuate now,” the official said. “Nearly Rs 20 crore are spent annually on just the maintenance, electricity, and fixed-line phone bills of the lawmakers barring the previous council of ministers.”
However, as per sources in the department, MLA Nagrota Devender Singh Rana and MLA Homeshali Bugh Abdul Majeed Larmi have voluntarily decided to handover their official accommodations soon after the dissolution of the assembly this week, leaving one wondrous about the previous council of ministers whose term ended five months back.
“I gave up my accommodation in Srinagar as I ceased to be an MLA. Keeping the security in view, a former MLA can opt for one accommodation but not multiple ones that they are holding,” Larmi said.
He said every MLA should realise that the government already has a shortage of accommodations, which the former MLAs can lessen by relinquishing their multiple ones.
Currently, all the previous ministers who had opted for the official accommodation in the twin capitals continue to occupy them with the maintenance and other allied costs being borne by the State.
As per a Comptroller Auditor General of India Report, Jammu and Kashmir has been violating discretionary powers of allotments of government accommodation ranging from 191 to 617 percent under a quota of just 5 percent.
"The records (of the audit of discretionary quota allotments by the Estates Department) showed that the sealing of discretionary allotment of 5 percent had not been maintained and remain in the range of 191 to 617 percent," the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report for the year 2016 reads.
Giving further details, the CAG report had then revealed that against an overall quota of 51 accommodation (quarters and independent houses), the government has allotted 205 such accommodation to legislators, MPs, media persons, former MPs and legislators, besides political persons.
As per sources in the department, the numbers have considerably gone up following allotment of accommodation to the relatives of the former ministers and even lawmakers.