Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah today asked legislators to expedite the process of urban reforms by ensuring early passage of the House Tax bill as delay is resulting in stopage of funds from the Centre.
He told the members of the House to get the bill passed in the legislature so that the development process in the state’s capital cities is re-started.
“If you (legislators) want the cities (of Jammu and Srinagar) to be saved,please bring the bill (House Tax and Urban Reforms bill) and pass it,so that we can get money from the Centre and invested on the ground (in twin capital cities)”,Omar told the Assembly while intervening on the issue of worsening situation in the twin cities due to halt of Centre-aided development projects,including sewerage and drainage.
The members of BJP Jugal Kishore and Ashok Khajuria raised the issue of bad state of Jammu city due to dug-out roads,unfinished sewerage and drainage projects.
Omar said “I want to request you to see that the bill is passed if you want to re-start work in all these places”.
“We have to see what we have done to Jammu city. These projects are carried out by the two departments ERA and Housing departments– there is no hurdle in ERA’s work. If there is any problem,it is in Housing and Urban Development department”.
The Chief Minister said “we had entered into an agreement with the Centre that we will usher in reforms in Urban development when we were moving forward in Urban development reforms. But we stopped this (the process) and it was halted in Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council”.
“We cannot blame Urban and Housing department. We had brought this important legislation here– about House taxes– it was wrongly projected in the public that government is imposing house tax on the people through this Assembly”,he said adding “such a situation was created that the bill was sent to House committee and is currently in the cold store”.
“The government had no intention to impose house tax. Instead,as per the bill,we wanted to lower the ceiling”,he said adding “but despite all this good initiative members did not allow this bill to pass”.
“When the bill was not passed– the money (central funding for these mega projects) was stopped. Unless and untill the bill does not pass,the state of affairs of Jammu and Srinagar cities will remain as such”,Omar said.
On this,the leader of the opposition Mehbooba Mufti shot back at Chief Minister by saying that he has the majority and can pass the bill on his own.
“Why are you blaming the members? You have the majority to pass the bill”,she said.
Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party (JKNPP) member Balwant Singh Mankotia said the Assembly had already passed the bill and it was stuck in the Legislative Council.