Srinagar: At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has wiped out thousands of jobs, the Jammu and Kashmir government has abolished a 17-year-old scheme to leave more than four-thousand engineers jobless.
The ‘Self Help Group of Engineers Scheme’ (SHGES) was launched by the J&K government in 2003 wherein 30 percent of the total works in government departments, corporations and autonomous bodies was earmarked for SHGs of unemployed engineers as an alternative to government jobs.
But on Monday, the J&K government abolished the SHGES with immediate effect.
In an order issued by the General Administration Department regarding the merger of the engineering wings of 15 departments and organisations, Commissioner Secretary to the government, Manoj Kumar Dwivedi, directed that the “practice of reserving a proportion of projects for Self Help Groups of Engineers is abolished forthwith”.
As per the website of the Employment Department, there are 4,545 unemployed engineers including both degree and diploma holders across J&K working in 1073 SHGs — 2926 in Kashmir and 1619 registered in Jammu division.
Surprisingly, the government’s move abolishing the SHGES comes six months after the Labour and Employment Department said that it was modifying the scheme guidelines in order to make them more “progressive” so as to enable SHGs to take up projects of bigger quantum.
It is understandable then that the said move has come as a shocker to even officials in the Labour and Employment Department.
A top official in the department told Kashmir Reader that the decision to abolish the SHGES had been “unilaterally” taken by the government without even consulting the concerned department which administers the scheme.
“In fact, we have been going district to district highlighting the significance of the scheme as it provides an alternative to government jobs. The abolition of the scheme has been done by the higher-ups in the government and it is very unfortunate,” an official in the L&E Department said.
Advisor Farooq Khan, who holds the L&E portfolio when asked for his comments over the matter, told Kashmir Reader that the abolition of the scheme had more to do with the Works Department. He, however, hoped the issue of the engineers left jobless by the move “would be resolved”.
In the meantime, the Labour and Employment Department would continue to modify the scheme guidelines to make the scheme more progressive, Khan added.
An official in the department hoped that the decision may be revoked given the utility of the scheme and restore employment to the unemployed engineers benefiting from it.
When this reporter called J&K government’s official spokesperson Rohit Kansal, he asked him to text over the matter. Kansal, however, did not reply to the text by this reporter.