‘Winds of change increasingly becoming evident in J&K’
Jammu: The unprecedented increase in developmental activity in J&K, riding on an ongoing cross cutting reform push, has placed J&K in the enviable company of best performing states/UTs in the country.
There is not only a buzz within, but also outside the J&K, and this image makeover is resulting in positive spinoffs.
Investors’ confidence and willingness to invest in J&K is a telltale sign of the confidence that the ongoing reforms are inspiring amongst those who have capital and are looking for a place to invest.
Investors come calling only when they trust that systems in a state/ UT to respond to their concerns and needs on a real time basis.
Public institutions are now responsive, and J&K has suddenly become a beacon of hope.
It would not be possible without a rule based order, which places premium on transparency, equity and accountability.
Unprecedented development that has taken place all around in J&K is giving a lie to the long propagated notion in J&K that for accelerating development, systems need to be junked and that adherence to the laws can choke and throttle growth. It is becoming increasingly evident that such notion was largely propagated for self interest.
Nothing can be farther from the truth.
J&K is witnessing unprecedented development in all spheres.
Many development works, even those languishing for want of funds or for some other reasons, are being executed or have rather found a new lease of life and are being completed in record time.
And this is being done without cutting corners; infact all regulatory requirements are being met in each case.
Tendering has always been a bugbear; there has been an unwillingness to touch it even with a bargepole, so to speak.
Today, e-tendering is the new buzzword; it resonates in every district, block and panchayat.
It has brought transparency, what’s more equity, in the work execution; all works are being e- tendered. The days of doling out contracts to select few cronies on nomination are becoming a matter of past. Equity, transparency and fairness is the new mantra.
Today, no work is undertaken without administrative and technical approvals.
Despite strict fiscal discipline, greater number of works are being completed in record time.
According to the government’s statistics, the number of works completed during 2021-22 has shown a monumental jump as compared to the past years.
In the year 2018-19, 3293 works were completed under district capex in J&K. In the following year, this figure was 1165 while in 2020-21, 1676 works were completed.
Contrast this with 18651 works already completed as on end of February, 2022 and 36572 works likely to be completed by the end of the fiscal year.
If 36572 works are completed in 2021-22, this would represent nearly 22-fold increase over the works completed in the preceding year.
Compare the number of works completed in 2020-21 with those in 2019-20 and the increase is minuscule 1.43 times.
The uptick in work execution achieved in or likely to be achieved in 2021-22 is nothing less than spectacular, if one considers that all these works have been executed after following a process of competitive bidding.
Even the representatives of the people have seen the efficacy of the new fiscal order.
Just sample this: Block Development Council Chairman, Marheen, District Jammu, Karan Attri has this to say, “the development works are going on at a good pace and around 80 percent works have already been completed in my area.”
He goes on to say, “people have high expectations from us and we are trying our best to complete all the ongoing works on time”.
DDC, Chairperson, Reasi, Saraf Singh, puts it down to the transformation in financial system carried out during the last two years.
“This is a fallacy that allotment on nomination basis quickens the pace of works. If anything, it only brings arbitrariness and discretion in the system. More works will be completed in Reasi District this year compared to the previous year. E-tendering has not been a drag on the process of development,” he said.
Saraf, a retired JKAS officer, who has worked in the Accounts and Treasuries Organisation, understands the virtues of transparency and financial discipline, said, “ there are some teething problems, but they will get resolved going forward as the new system deepens.”
He said the increase in the completion of the development works was also due to the increased monitoring by the PRIs.
He also hailed the “Janbhagidari Empowerment” portal, saying that, “it has provided easy and ready access to the general public and they can see the works being done in their areas by simply pressing a button on their smart phones.”
He said that ‘stricter financial regime and mobile enabled oversight are the two most important reforms in J&K in the recent history.
And they have put the real power in the hands of the people and their representatives.’