Saturday, May 30, 2009

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Parliamentary Panel Recommends Extensive Sops For Pandits

Naseer A Ganai

Srinagar, May 28: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Home Affairs that has tabled its report on Kashmiri migrants in the parliament has expressed concern over what it said “absence of comprehensive policy for rehabilitation” of Kashmiri pandits and recommended host of measures for the Pandit community.

The report tabled on February 13, 2009 has charged the centre and the State government of not adopting holistic approach to tackle the problems faced by the community. It has asked the centre government to issue directions to all States and the Union Territories to provide land to Kashmiri pandits for construction of houses under group housing schemes.

The committee said that the actual expenditure on account of implementation of rehabilitation programme for JK migrants during 2006-07 was only Rs 69.31 crores against the allocation of Rs 120 for 2007-2008. The report said that the government was not expeditiously implementing the schemes meant for the Kashmiri migrants.

The report that has used “Kashmiri displaced persons” for Kashmiri pandit migrants and has objected to the word “migrant” used in the context of Kashmiri pandits. It said the using suffix of the migrant for Kashmiri displaced persons was not appropriate. “Because,” the report argues, “the affected persons have been forced to give up their homes and hearths against their own will due to the mayhem caused by the militants.”

The report, copy of which is with the Greater Kashmir, however has different views about the return of Kashmiri pandits to the valley. “The committee is of the view that those persons cannot wait endlessly for normalcy to return to the valley and there is no harm if some such people prefer to settle outside the valley. The committee desires that the government should consider this aspect and announce suitable and appropriate policy measures,” the report said. The report said that Ministry of Home Affairs should explore all avenues to provide employment to Kashmiri pandits under the Prime Minister’s reconstruction package announced in 2004.

The report has opined that the Ministry of Home Affairs should play proactive role to force the State government to formulate the rehabilitation schemes for Kashmiri pandits. The committee has recommended that all the houses of Kashmiri pandits lying in “dilapidated condition” should be rebuilt by the government or a liberal grant be offered to owners of the properties to rebuild them.

“The committee understands that the purpose of monthly allowance given to Kashmiri displaced persons is to ensure that difficulties and hardships faced by them are minimized. But keeping in view of requirement for decent living the committee recommends that the government should consider to increase monthly sustenance from Rs 1000 per head to a reasonable amount,” the report said.

The Committee has recommended host of other measures:

That there should be budgetary provision for Kashmiri Pandits who are residing in valley for fulfilling their genuine needs of housing, employment and self-employment.

That there should be directions from the centre government to all the State governments and union territories to provide relief and rehabilitation to Kashmiri pandits living in their states and UTs.

That immediate employment of 1000 persons and constructions of two room flats at existing places of dwelling in Jammu should be implemented for Kashmiri pandits without delay. That the relief of Kashmiri pandits living outside the camps be enhanced to commensurate with the cost of living index.


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