Discrimination in SHGES amendments: Unemployed Engineers

SRINAGAR: Unemployed engineers in Jammu and Kashmir have alleged discrimination in the proposed amendments in the government’s Self Help Group of Engineers Scheme (SHGES), sayingthe Labour and Employment Department maintains the change was to make the scheme more progressive.
The SHGES was launched by the then J&K state government in 2003 to provide livelihood opportunities to unemployed engineers in government work contracts as an alternative to government jobs.
In February 2017, the L&E Department sanctioned adoption of guidelines for implementation of the scheme guidelines according to which 30 percent of the total works of the government departments, corporations and autonomous bodies was earmarked for the SHGs.
As per the 2017 guidelines, a SHG could be allotted work contracts upto the maximum quantum of Rs 25 lakh, Rs 40 lakh and Rs 60 lakh respectively for the first two, four and six years of its registration.
However, a year later, the financial limit of work contracts was raised by the government to Rs 50 lakh, Rs 75 lakh and Rs 1.25 crore for the respective years by making the required amendments in the scheme guidelines.
But the L&E Department was now making amendments in the scheme guidelines “under the influence of the senior SHG lobby to bend the scheme in their favour”, several unemployed engineers comprising engineering degree and diploma holders and who are part of the SHGs across J&K, alleged.
They alleged that their seniors were trying to revoke the 2018 scheme amendments that would, again bring down the quantum of work contracts for the junior SHGs and would be discrimination with them.
While the scheme was meant to provide means of livelihood to them, the unemployed engineers feared that the avenues for their employability would diminish in case the government amended the guidelines of SHG scheme in favour of their seniors.
“How can they take a decision, which is based on disparity?” an aggrieved unemployed engineer, who works in the scheme in central Kashmir’s Budgam district, asked.
The SHG members asked the government to stick to the scheme amendments of 2018 to prevent disparity in the allotment of work contracts.
Commissioner Secretary L&E Department, Saurabh Bhagat however told Kashmir Reader that the scheme guidelines were being amended in order to make it “progressive and fine tune it as per the present day requirements”.
Bhagat said that the junior SHGs could, on the contrary, take up bigger contracts as per the proposed amendments, which he said, will be made public in coming weeks after approval by the J&K administration.
Director Employment J&K, Yash Paul Suman, too pacified the fears of junior SHG members that the scheme guidelines were being bent in favour of the seniors.
A top official in the L&E Department said that the high level committee constituted by the department over the matter had already forwarded the note on the amendments to the lien departments for their objections in this regard.

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