Parliamentary panel raps MHA for neglecting Kashmiri migrants’ issues

New Delhi: A Parliamentary panel on Kashmiri migrants has come down heavily on Union Home Ministry accusing it of neglecting various issues pertaining to the community especially in health sector as many people were suffering from cancer, kidney ailments and other diseases that needed immediate treatment.
In its report, the Committee said it was “extremely dissatisfied” by the logic given by the ministry for limiting enhancement of cash relief to the migrants.
According to official data, as many as 59,442 Kashmiri Pandit families have been registered as migrants with 38,119 registered in Jammu, 19,338 in Delhi and 1,985 in the rest of the country.
On the cash relief, the sub-committee of the Parliamentary panel wondered why Home Ministry had not enhanced the cash amount to 3,418 families to Rs 10,000 from existing Rs 6,600 per family despite recommendations by the Jammu and Kashmir government.
“The Committee is extremely dissatisfied by the logic given by the Ministry for limiting enhancement of the relief by Rs 400 per soul despite claim made by the Government that the thrust of providing cash relief was to minimize hardships of migrant families.
“The Committee in this background fails to understand how a meagre enhancement of Rs 400 per soul would be able to fight the inflationary pressures in a big city like Delhi. The Ministry’s decision to totally disregard State Government’s recommendation for enhancement of the relief to Rs 10000 per family is unfortunate.
“It, therefore, recommends that the recommendation of the State Government may be accepted,” the Action Taken Report tabled in Rajya Sabha recently said.
Expressing its displeasure on several counts, the Committee made it clear that the Union Home Ministry, being the nodal agency, “cannot shirk its responsibility for not being able to improve the situation on the ground”.
“The Committee is of the view that the situation of migrants still remains neglected several years after the exodus started. It may be due to extreme difficulty in resettlement or wrong policies, but whatever may be the case the situation on the ground remains grim,” it said and asked the ministry to have a re-look at the polices that have not worked.
In Delhi there are 19,338 families registered as ‘Migrant’ out of which, 3418 families were getting cash relief from Delhi government.
On the health issue, the committee noted that only Rs 57 lakh had been disbursed from the corpus fund of Rs five crore created in 2007.
“The sub-committee, during the visit to different Migrant camps in Srinagar and Jammu learnt that several members of the affected community were suffering from deadly diseases like cancer, kidney failure, etc., and need immediate help,” the report said.
Expressing surprise that only 200 claims had been received since 2007, the Committee said “this looks unbelievable considering the fact that the migrants are living in poor financial conditions” and asked the government to look into the reasons for limited coverage of the scheme.
“….When the money is available, it must be cobwebs of rules and procedures as well as formalities which are behind such limited coverage,” the committee said and suggested simplification of procedures so that maximum bona fide beneficiaries can take the advantage of this fund.
The Committee also strongly recommended that the ministry should provide additional facilities in the health centres established in the camps for treating such deadly diseases.
It hoped that the Ministry would also provide health insurance cover to migrants for which budget has already been earmarked.
On employment, the Parliamentary Committee asked the government to be more “realistic” in formulating the schemes for the youth while referring to the Prime Minister’s package under which 9000 youths were supposed to get financial assistance to set up their self-ventures.
“The Committee is disappointed to note the fact that there are no takers for the self employment package of the Government. First, the conditionalities attached are stringent. Secondly, the amount is not sufficient for starting an enterprise,” it said.
Taking into account the contention of the government that it was not possible to create government jobs for everyone, it said “the Committee feels that since the off take of the scheme is very little, the option of increasing the funds per individual for self-employment may be explored. This may be done to make the scheme more attractive.
“The Government should be more realistic in its approach if it does not want to remain satisfied with schemes just on paper,” it said.
On Prime Minister’s package for Kashmiri Pandits, the Committee noted that only one family had returned to the Valley as the “improvement on the ground has been scanty”.
The Committee frowned on Home Ministry’s explanation that “lack of consensus among various migrant organisations for permanent return and settlement” was the main reason behind non-return of the community.
There could be a difference of opinion within various organisations but the perception in the community was that the situation on the ground was not at all conducive for return, it said.
“The Committee is, therefore, of the opinion that some more components of the PM’s package should be opened up for the migrants with the conditionality of their return,” it said, adding, this would serve as a major confidence building measure for encouraging the families to return to the Valley.
The Committee also took note of the cumbersome nature of the electoral process designed for migrants.
“No wonder that they allege the whole system has been instituted to discourage them. While that may not be the case, simplification of the process is obviously required.
“The Committee, therefore, recommends that the Government may take up the matter with Election Commission so that the migrants can rightfully take part in the electoral process like rest of their fellow citizens,” it said.