Jammu: Opposition National and Congress members Wednesday staged a brief walkout from the assembly as MLAs, cutting across party lines, raised the issue of breach of privileges and protocol of speaker Kavinder Gupta and demanded government’s intervention.
National Conference and Congress MLAs walked out of the House for a few minutes after Gupta revealed how his security protocol was breached and was still waiting for a report from the authorities concerned.
“We walked out in support of the speaker and for our rights,” Congress legislature party leader Nawag Rigzin Jora said.
Amid sloganeering against the government and in support of the speaker, the opposition took the decision after several members, including both from the PDP and BJP, speaking on the discussion of grants, raised the issue of breach of privileges and protocol by government officials and sought the intervention of the government.
When independent MLA Pawan Gupta was speaking on the issue, the speaker intervened and said he had written to the SSP Jammu as how can the vehicles of Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh break his protocol and sought a report.
“I have not received the response till date,” he said.
“The speaker is the custodian of the MLA’s rights and if he himself is disappointed for breach of his own protocol, then God save this assembly and the state,” Jora said.
Parliamentary Affairs minister A R Veeri assured the House that the matter would be probed.
Earlier, CPI(M) legislator M Y Tarigami raised the issue of non-cooperation of ministers and various government officials to the communications for redressal of issues.
“I am heading the house panel on environment but officials are not taking our queries seriously. They are not responding to our communications,” he said.
He alleged that the ministers feel it below their dignity to communicate directly with the members and instead personal assistants are being tasked for the same.
The demand for setting up of an house committee was raised by ruling PDP MLA Mohammad Ashraf Mir and was supported by opposition members, including Tarigami and Congress and National Conference legislators.
“I am not satisfied with the reply of the minister concerned. The desilting of river Jhelum is taking place in bits and pieces, especially from Sonawar (in Srinagar) to Pampore (in Pulwama).
“Therefore, I propose setting up of an house committee to supervise and speed up the project,” Mir said.
Supporting Mir’s demand, Tarigami said, “it is a very serious issue and we want a concrete action plan.”
The lone CPI(M) MLA in the state accused the government of casual approach on the issue which, according to him, is directly linked to the safety and security of the people. He cited the example of the devastating 2014 floods.
Earlier, replying to the question of Mir, Irrigation and Flood Control minister Sham Lal Choudhary said to further augment the dredging in river Jhelum, the department has outsourced the work — in Baramulla and Srinagar — to a Kolkata-based company which has dredged out 5.06 lakh cum and 5.084 lakh cum, respectively till December last year.
“The desilting or dreding work in outfall channel was restarted in Sopore and Baramulla in 2012 where in two departmental dredgers have been operating continuously. The quantity dredged out till December last year is 5.40 lakh cum,” he said.
In response to Mir’s another question, Choudhary said there was no proposal for seeking financial assistance from the World Bank for desilting the water bodies falling under the control of Forest, Environment and Ecology department.
However, he said the Irrigation and Flood Control Department in collaboration with Department of Disaster Management and Relief, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction has floated the expression of interest for “consultancy services for conducting surveys, studies, formulation of comprehensive plan and preparation of detailed project report for flood management works of river Jhelum and its tributaries” through project management unit of Jhelum-Tawi flood recovery project funded by the World Bank which includes the study of desilting of water bodies of the Jhelum basin.
The Forest, Environment and Ecology Department through its subordinate wings the Wildlife Protection Department and Wullar Conservation and Management Authority (WUCMA) – carry out desilting of various water bodies on regular basis, he said.
Choudhary said the Wildlife Protection Department was managing 20 notified wetlands and water bodies under the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
He said the desilting of these water bodies is carried out every year as part of the management practices.
The minister said so far 1.5 square kilometre area of the Wullar lake has been dredged out of the 27 square kilometre of the critically siled area.
Moreover, dredging to the extent of 1.80 kms has been carried out in the Naz Nallah (stream), tributary of Wullar, to restore the connectivity with the marshes, he said.
In addition, he said, the Jammu and Kashmir Lakes and Waterways Development Authority is looking after conservation and management of Dal and Nageen lakes in Srinagar as detailed project report approved by the Centre for an amount of Rs 298.76 crore in which one of the component is dreding and desilting of shore-line of Dal-Nageen lake.