Chief Minister’s Choices

The Government of India (GoI) is likely to change its usual fund-allocation arrangement for Jammu and Kashmir to check corruption.  Highly informed sources say that New Delhi is considering a proposal better than the Rs 44,000 crore plan drawn up by the state for post-flood reconstruction and rehabilitation. The GoI is said to be prepared to give more, but in a markedly different mode – relief and rehabilitation work is likely to be handed over to credible agencies and organizations. Interestingly, such suggestions have come not only from common people but also form some top officers in the state government.

This must serve as an eye-opener for the Omar Abdullah-led coalition. The Chief Minister appears to be in for some serious thinking ahead of assembly polls as, for instance, agencies working for the GoI have already stolen a march over his government in detailing the loss of lives and damage to public and private property in Jammu and Kashmir. They have also framed a detailed mechanism to rehabilitate common people and re-construct roads, bridges and buildings across the state on modern lines. Aware of the level of corruption in Jammu and Kashmir, the GoI may employ national-level agencies and NGOs known for road, bridge and building construction and streamlining healthcare systems across India instead of transferring funds to the state exchequer directly.

The GoI plans to reconstruct flood-hit houses either through centrally-sponsored schemes which would be monitored jointly by central and state officers, or, instead of putting funds in the hands state politicians, take the state machinery under its own control to directly pay flood-suffers whose houses and other structures have been damaged.

It is widely believed that elections in Jammu and Kashmir – a state declared the second most corrupt in India only some years ago – are likely to be deferred and governor’s rule imposed. The reconstruction package, it is being surmised, would come during that period. This will benefit the BJP. The saffron brigade seems determined to take full advantage of the situation emerging slowly but surely in the state.