Notwithstanding the fact that crores of rupees are being spent every year in hiring hotels and private houses to provide accommodation to the move employees in both the capital cities, several proposals relating to construction of huge number of flats for the Estates Department have been gathering dust in the official files during the past several years for want of committed source of funding. Moreover, funds constraints have been delaying work on some ongoing projects much to the disappointment of the employees.
The Estates Department came into the existence in the year 1968 after its separation from the Public Works Department and the primary mandate of the department is to provide office and residential accommodation in favour of various categories including Ministers, constitutional dignitaries, senior officers and move/non-move employees.
At present the Estates Department owns around 4600 residential units both in Jammu and Srinagar. However, keeping in view the ever increasing demand of employees for providing of Government accommodation, the present number of residential units is grossly inadequate, official sources told EXCELSIOR while disclosing that there has been a pressing demand particularly from move employees for providing of sufficient residential accommodation both at Jammu and Srinagar.
It is worthwhile to mention here that out of around 9000 move employees, the Estates Department is in a position to provide accommodation to 3291 employees in its residential colonies and around 1000 employees are provided hotel accommodation in Jammu while as around 3000 employees are provided hotel accommodation in Srinagar where the number of residential units is much limited.
“In the absence of sufficient accommodation of its own, the Estates Department is even forced to hire private houses both at Jammu and Srinagar in order to overcome the deficiency to some extent and in this way crores of rupees are being spent every year by the department”, sources said.
Keeping in view the pressing requirement of Estates Department, proposals were mooted several years back for construction of flats but majority of the same have remained confined to the papers till date for want of committed source of funding, they said.
There was a proposal for construction of 222 flats at Jawahar Nagar in Srinagar under Public Private Partnership (PPP) mode by dismantling 65 existing quarters. Similarly, there was a proposal to construct 288 flats under PPP mode by way of dismantling 58 C-type quarters at Gandhi Nagar in Jammu. However, none of these proposals has become reality till date because of non-seriousness at all the concerned quarters in the Government, sources said.
“This is notwithstanding the fact that assurances about giving practical shape to these proposals in shortest possible time were extended on the floor of State Legislature a number of times”, they further said while disclosing that at one point of time it was also stated that some towers both at Jawahar Nagar and Gandhi Nagar would be earmarked for the accommodation of legislators.
Likewise, there was a proposal about purchase of 164 flats from Jammu Development Authority being constructed at Muthi. But JDA has not been formally approached in this regard till date despite the fact that JDA had invited applications from private persons for these flats well before the commencement of the work.
“Similar is the fate of proposals regarding acquiring of land from Sericulture Department at Tulsi Bagh and from Jammu and Kashmir Industries at Solina for construction of multi-storied flat accommodation”, sources informed. “Even no headway has been made on the proposal regarding construction of eight Ministerial bungalows at Gupkar Srinagar in collaboration with Custodian Department”, they added.
They said, “what to talk of funds for these proposed constructions, the Estates Department is also facing constraints of funds for completion of ongoing projects like the one at Pampore”.
When contacted, Director Estates Department Tasaduq Jeelani confirmed that no progress could be made on some proposals for want of committed source of funding. “We are still vigorously pursuing these proposals so that in the years to come we will be able to overcome the deficiency of accommodation”, he added.
About the construction of 400 flats at Pampore, he said, “48 flats have already been completed and allotted to deserving move employees while as 32 more will be ready by end of current financial year”. He further said, “actually work is ongoing on 9 blocks having 144 flats but their completion depends on availability of funds”.