SRINAGAR: A huge disparity exists in rent on private accommodations hired by the Estates Department that allots accommodation in different Estates colonies to move and non-move employees, for ‘Darbar Move’ employees between Srinagar and Jammu.
An insider within the department says that the disparity exists since last many years and nothing is being done to balance the rent between the two regions.
As per the sources, department currently provides around 2 percent rent on private accommodations in Srinagar and in Jammu, the same are provided about 6 percent of overall existing cost of land.
“Actually, there are no prescribed norms for the hiring of private accommodations. A good number of private buildings are even hired without following proper procedures,” says the insider.
Moreover, he says, department has not any separate allocation of funds for paying rents of these accommodations. “It’s being reimbursed from security related expenditure,” he says.
This year, around 100 private accommodations have been hired to provide stay for some 2600 Move employees.
Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its report released in 2016, had raised similar concerns and had reprimanded the department which is also responsible for revenue realization from government quarters, other commercial properties and regular repair/ renovation of government buildings, for not having formulated any policy to hire private accommodations.
While pointing out the disparity on rents between Srinagar and Jammu which it says is 2 percent for Srinagar and 6.5 for Jammu, the report also said that the tenders were not invited from interested private house owners in 2015 to ensure transparent hiring.
“The rent of private houses was fixed by the Rent Assessment Committee of the Department and of the total 176 private houses hired by the Department in Srinagar and Jammu during 2014-15, only 21 houses were hired on the basis of offers received from various private owners and the remaining 155 were hired without receipt of any offers,” the audit report said.
A lower-rung official in the department while trying to justify the rent disparity says that ‘Darbar Move’ employees that are being provided private accommodations during winter session in Jammu, cook meals themselves and engage in activities that at times, spoils the interiors of these private accommodations.
Compared to this, he says, the ‘Move’ employees in Srinagar are provided meals and all other things by the accommodation owners.
Call it irony, official apathy or lackadaisical attitude of officials that the top officials in the department have no knowledge about how much rent is department paying for private accommodations that it hires for ‘Darbar Move’ employees for temporary stay.
Director of the Estates Department, Tasadduq Jeelani who is also chairman of Rent Assessment Committee, says that he is not aware about the rent being given to owners of private accommodations and that he will confirm it from officials.
Similarly, Deputy Director ED, echoed the similar words, and said he doesn’t have information about the same and referred this correspondent to Director Estates.
Jeelani said that their department has now taken serious initiatives to do away with hiring of private accommodations and that various proposals have been prepared to arrange departments own accommodation at both places in Srinagar as well as in Jammu.
Assuming that there is not much disparity of rent between two capitals, Jeelani, however, said that he won’t allow any disparity of rent for private accommodations “if at all it exists in the department”.
“Normally, Move employees from Jammu don’t shift Srinagar with their families unlike employees from Kashmir who shift along with their all family members. We provide rooms to employees from Jammu on sharing basis but for employees from Kashmir, we have to provide them separate accommodations,” he said.
He said that very few assets have now remained available with department as a good number of buildings have been damaged during the past or are not suitable for living.
“We have now decided to go for public-private partnership mode to construct our own assets for the same. We have land available in Gandhi Nagar in Jammu and in Jawahar Nagar in Srinagar, and we hope that accommodations are built soon,” he said.