Jammu, Feb 11: Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha Sunday asserted that the Scheduled Tribe status to Paharis would not disturb communal harmony in Pir Panjal sub-region as the objective behind it was “all-inclusive development of deprived sections.”
“No, the communal harmony is not going to be impacted with this move (ST status to Paharis) there (in Pir Panjal). For those, who have a ‘political’ axe to grind, it (to incite people) is their main pursuit to serve their malicious intentions. They resort to petty-politics even when we grant 5-Marla land to a homeless destitute. I think that some people have an irresistible proclivity for ‘wily politics’ while for few others, people’s welfare figures as their topmost priority. Both will remain stuck to their respective priorities. This is an absolute truth. Let them do what they are doing, we will continue to serve people,” he said.
He was responding to a query during his press conference on J&K (interim) budget 2024-25 related to attempts to vitiate atmosphere and provoke one section of people (Gujjar-Bakerwals) by misleading them despite repeated assurances by the Lieutenant Governor and top leadership of the country that their reservation quota would remain untouched.
Earlier he described the passage of Bills, granting Scheduled Tribe status to Paharis and reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in Panchayats and Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) in the Parliament in just concluded Budget session as “historic.”
“These decisions were in alignment with the commitment of the Union Home Minister, he made in the Parliament on August 5, 2019 and later in public rallies in Rajouri and Baramulla. On the basis of recommendations of Justice (retired) G D Sharma Commission, Paharis were accorded ST status. Now they would get all benefits in jobs and educational institutions yet it would not dilute the reservation quota of existing communities (Gujjar-Bakerwals) in perfect spirit with the Prime Minister’s “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Prayas Aur Sabka Vishwas,” LG Sinha said.
REVENUE EXPENDITURE EXCEEDING CAPEX BECAUSE OF DEBT-BURDEN CREATED BY ‘DYNASTIC REGIMES’
How significant growth can be expected in J&K if its interim budget projects 68 percent outlay for revenue expenditure and only 32 percent for capital expenditure, in response to this question, the Lieutenant Governor stated that it was because of legacy (of financial mess) bequeathed to the present ruling dispensation by previous ‘dynastic regimes.’
“Yeh Hamne Koi Khud Nahin Banaya Hai. Jaisa Maine Pehle Kaha…Baap, Daadon Ka Karz Rs 28000 Cr Hai…Yeh Virasat Mein Mili Hui Cheez Hai.. (As I stated earlier also that it (financial mess obstructing growth) is not our creation. We have been repaying debt of Rs 28,000 Cr accumulated by dynastic regimes (on account of power dues) since 2005. This we have inherited as (financial) legacy). It is being rectified. It will take few more years to bring system back in order. Rest assured it will happen. Soon, we will achieve ratio at par with other states/UTs of the country,” he stated.
RATIO BETTER AS COMPARED TO OTHER STATES: PRINCIPAL SECRETARY FINANCE
At this point, the Principal Secretary Finance Santosh D Vaidya, in a brief intervention, explained that the (revenue and capital expenditure) ratio of J&K was better than other states.
“If you compare this figure with that of other states, generally the capex is 15-20 percent of the total budget. By that yardstick, it is far better,” he said.
When pointed out that contrary to government projections of significant hike in capex for the financial year 2024-25, one would not find much difference while having a glance at the capex for the year 2023-24 while all other components (salary, pension or other expenditures) registered a significant increase, Vaidya stated, “On this account there is an important point that revenue expenditure also includes several welfare services.”
“Like, pensions, worth around Rs 1200 Cr, are part of revenue expenditure. Similarly, expenditure incurred under Ayushman Bharat welfare scheme is also covered under revenue expenditure. Different kinds of scholarships, pensions and many welfare schemes of the Government of India or the J&K government form part of revenue expenditure. They are integral part of welfare schemes,” Principal Secretary Finance clarified.
With regard to a question about long drawn-out struggle of Jats for OBC status in J&K, the Lieutenant Governor remarked, “I thought you would be overwhelmed with joy following the announcement of highest civilian award “Bharat Ratna” for the former Prime Minister Chaudhary Charan Singh. Let’s savour those moments first; response will follow.”