65 J&K dailies blacklisted for ‘irregular’ publication
Now an advertisement scam in Information Department
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Even as Director of Information, Zaffar Ahmad, was not reachable for confirmation, highly placed authoritative sources said that the state government’s advertisement support had been immediately stopped to 65 newspapers, claiming to be publishing daily in English, Urdu or Hindi.
Sources said that a scrutiny of records made it clear that the blacklisted newspapers had been publishing just 4 or 5 times a month. After getting the paid advertisements regularly from Directorate of Information, publishers of the dailies had been printing their newspapers of seven or ten days together in just one sitting. Sources said that glaring irregularities were noticed in attendance of the publications supposed to be recorded daily at Directorate of Information.
Under rules, each and every publication has to be printed strictly in accordance to the periodicity mentioned in the declaration. While a daily is supposed to publish 30/31 days a month, a weekly has to be published every week and a monthly every month. It has also been observed that retired as well as serving employees of the Department of Information and their family members had overnight become owners or partners of three to five publications each. However, no action has been initiated against any of them.
Sources said that even in the matter of the irregular dailies, Director had issued only verbal orders and no formal official order was in circulation. However, his subordinate staff has been directed to strictly ensure that not a single advertisement was released to any of the dailies that had been found deficient or irregular in publication.
Editors of two vernacular dailies confirmed, on the condition of anonymity, that advertised had been stopped to them and nearly 60 others since Monday last. They, however, admitted that their publications had been irregular. “But, rule of law has to be observed in all matters”, said one of them. He claimed that “far bigger scandals” in the department were still being brushed under the carpet.
Editor of another daily, that has also been blacklisted unofficially, pointed out that other ‘irregularities’. He claimed that the Directorate of Information was fully aware that as many 20 government departments and government-controlled PSUs and Corporations had been supplying advertisements directly to their friends in media with an aim to promote certain officer’s PR but no action was being initiated against them. According to standing orders from Chief Secretary and General Administration Department (GAD), no government or government-controlled department, corporation or institution can directly supply advertisements to media while bypassing Directorate of Information.
Government Order No: 671-GAD of 2007 Dated 8-06-2007 makes it clear as under:
“Whereas, it has been observed that some Departments and Public Sector Undertakings/Autonomous Bodies are issuing official advertisements directly to the press/media without routing the same through the Information Department which is in violation of the standing instructions of the State Government on the subject; and whereas, there is need to reiterate instructions in this behalf.
Now, therefore, it is hereby ordered that henceforth no Government
Department/Public sector Undertaking/Autonomous Body under the
Government shall, under any circumstance, issue official advertisements directly to the press/media and instead route these invariably through the Directorate of Information.
Failure on the part of any Government Department/Public Sector
Undertaking/Autonomous Body in adhering to the above orders will be viewed seriously and appropriate action taken against the delinquent officers”.
A middle-ranking official at Directorate of Information, who is not authorized to speak to media, claimed that the department had identified over a dozen delinquent departments, PSUs, Boards and Corporations and recommended them for disciplinary action to General Administration Department and administrative Secretary of Information Department. “But, both have been sleeping over the matter for the reasons known only to Secretary GAD and Principal Secretary Information”, he asserted.