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Monday, February 8, 2016

Ex-Ministers’ entitlement of retaining bungalows expires

Estates Department to evict 215 unauthorised occupants in Jammu

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
JAMMU, Feb 7: Even as all the members of Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s Council of Ministers have lost their entitlement of retaining their Ministerial bungalows and vehicles on Sunday, Governor’s administration is still undecided whether to order their eviction or otherwise.

“Under rules, the ministers are entitled to retain their accommodations for a month after ceasing to be the members of the Council of Ministers. That entitlement has expired today. However, we have no further direction in this matter as any decision with regard to such matters will be taken from the top”, said an officer of the Estates Department. Twenty-four legislators of PDP and BJP besides their independent allies like Sajjad Gani Lone and Pawan Gupta, have ceased to be Ministers after the death of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed on January 7.

Only the Mufti family have vacated the Chief Minister’s official residence at Wazarat Road in Jammu. Senior PDP leader and former Minister of Education Naeem Akhtar had remarked that the Mufti family vacated the house in keeping with the “high moral standards” Mufti Sahab maintained throughout his political career. However, none of the Ministers has followed the suit and vacated the rent-free accommodation either in Jammu or in Srinagar.

“Since all of them are also MLAs or MLCs and thus entitled to the government accommodation, we have to provide them alternative residences. We will undertake that exercise only if we get such a direction from the top”, the Estates Department official said.

The Estates official revealed to STATE TIMES that his department had completed the exercise of the identification of unauthorised occupants in different colonies in Jammu and their eviction drive would start in a couple of days. He said that a specially constituted team identified 215 unauthorised occupants. “They include the government employees who have retired from service, or have been transferred to distant locations including Kashmir valley, or have sublet the allotted premises or have constructed or acquired their own houses in Jammu. They also include tenants who have lost their entitlement in the last few years”, said the official.

The department had last week reprimanded different departments for failing to inform about transfer, retirement or death of the employees in possession of the government accommodation.

Financial Commissioner Estates, B B Vyas had in an order on Thursday directed the departments to furnish a copy of the retirement notification or transfer orders to the Estates department to bring about greater transparency and efficiency in its working.

“It is necessary that Estates Department is kept informed of subsequent transfers and postings of the allottee employees so that concomitant changes could be made in the allotted accommodation,” he had said. Non-availability of such information, he had pointed out, resulted in delay in the eviction process and allotment to the applicants in waiting. “This creates unnecessary information gaps and delays in the process relating to eviction, allotment and any changes in allotment,” he had said.

[Published in today's STATE TIMES]

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