Considering the efficiency and accountability with which the Governor, Narinder Nath Vohra, is running the state of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, people may not miss the civilian government any more. Surprisingly, an impression is gaining the ground, after every passing day, that Vohra has not just improved the governance delivery system but also made the bureaucracy accessible and accountable, like never before.
Vohra, 79, was appointed Governor of the state during the UPA regime, when Kashmir was boiling in the summer unrest of 2008, following the Amarnath land row that left more than 100 people dead. He is considered to be one of the most apolitical governors to have served the state. His no-nonsense attitude earned him the distinction of being the first civilian governor to be appointed in 18 years after Jagmohan.
Following the death of former Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, on 7 January, Vohra become the third-time administrative head of the state. He has held the office of Governor for the last eight years and rumors of his being replaced where rife when Sayeed, passed away in New Delhi, giving Vohra a second chance in a year to rule. This put J&K into its seventh instance of Governor's rule.
But observers and common people say never before has he been so constant and forceful, when it comes to governance delivery system, than this time. Be it compensation for flood effected people, dredging of Jhelum or punctuality of government employees and a host of other issues, Vohra has made a difference in his fresh avatar.
The grocery store of Fareed Lone, a shopkeeper in Jawahar Nagar area of Srinagar, was submerged in the September 2014 floods. His house too was damaged in the devastating floods that marooned most of Srinagar.
After he was denied compensation for months, when the BJP-PDP lead alliance was ruling the state for nine months, Lone was among the 5532 traders who were given compensation recently when Rs 1.99 crores was disbursed among 813 traders, by the state government led by Vohra. The administration granted cheques worth Rs 14.32 crores since the process of disbursal was expedited after 25 February.
“We pleaded before ministers in the previous government, but failed to receive any compensation, but last week, we were pleasantly surprised when we were given cheques for the loss. Although it won’t compensate for the damage fully, at least it happened without us having to beg before politicians,” Lone told Firstpost.
The state administration recently said that at least, 10,000 traders have been provided relief to the tune of over 40 crore, to restart their business.
Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir, Asghar Hassan Samoon, said that the current administration is working overnight to compensate people who have been effected by the floods and every trader who has suffered losses in the floods would be compensated.
“We have already disbursed 40.70 crore among traders and have also sent a proposal for the release of additional Rs 120 crores to the Centre government so that other will also be covered,” Samoon said.
Governor Vohra has also requested Uma Bharti, Minister for Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation to urgently release funds for the dredging of the river Jhelum and its outflow channels.
He has requested that Bharti should take personnel interest so that the project would be completed in a time-bound manner before the coming monsoon season.
A statement by the office of Governor last week that he is personally monitoring the implementation of this vital project to ensure that the works are completed as per the envisaged time frame. The dredging would increase the capacity of the Jhelum from 34,000 to 45,000 cusecs.
It is strange that despite having less bureaucracy, Vohra has made bureaucrats deliver in these two months in almost every area where his attention has been drawn. To ensure punctuality in all the government offices, he has ordered the implementation of biometric attendances by March.
Recently, after an intervention by his office, the defense ministry gave a nod to the night landing facility on the Srinagar Airport, flights can land in Srinagar till 10 pm.
“This is a good step. It will increase the tourist footfall ten times in the state. We had been demanding this for years now,” Manzoor Siddiq, President Travel Agents Association of Kashmir (TAAK), told Firstpost.
“There is relief on the administrative side since the Governor took over. Files are not lingering, the bureaucracy is responding and decision are being taken quickly,” Mushtaq Wani, Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) President, told Firstpost.
Vohra is not new to Kashmir; he was appointed as interlocutor by the central government to chalk out a road map for Kashmir. He is well known, and has before becoming governor, held talks with separatists and mainstream groups, to chalk out future strategy for Kashmir.
Recently, the state government suspended 100 doctors after finding them unauthorisedly absent from the duty. Without any delay, the government on Wednesday said the vacancies created after terminating services of 100 doctors recently will be referred to the to the recruiting agencies.
“This is not possible under any civilian government,” Umar Iqbal, a resident of Sonwar area of Srinagar said, “That is the beauty of the governors rule,” he added.