SRO 520: One Kanal rule for engagement as casual workers anguishes land donors

Mir Farhat. Updated: 12/23/2017 2:21:26 AM Front Page

SRINAGAR: While it was hailed by many for the comprehensive formal framework of regularisation of daily wagers and casual workers, barely hours later, the state government found itself under heavy criticism for facilitating regularisation of only those donors who have donated land measuring more than one Kanal.
In the fine print of the SRO-520, the finance department issued a day before, the government has fixed the eligibility criteria for land donors to be engaged in the casual service for the donation of a minimum of one Kanal land, leaving hundreds of such donors out in cold.
These persons, who have donated land, measuring less than one Kanal, for government projects, up in arms against the absurd rule put by the Finance department for engagement into the departments, on Friday took to the respective heads of various departments, registering their resentment against the said SRO.
As per the SRO 520 issued by the Finance Department on Thursday, the land donors, who have donated their land free of cost to the Government, will be eligible for engagement as casual workers on the recommendations of a Committee to be constituted by the concerned Administrative Departments and to be headed by the concerned Administrative Secretary.
"The cases of land donors, who have donated land after 31.12.2001 up to coming into force of these Rules only will be considered. The minimum land donated should be one kanal of proprietary land and it should be legally mutated in favour of the State Government," the SRO said.
The agitated land donors said that they have donated less than one kanal of land to the departments for construction of different structures for projects like power receiving stations, water supply schemes and schools where the departments assured engagement of land donors or their relatives into the department in lieu of the land, alleging that the recent SRO deprives them of engagement into the departments.
A case in point is PHE department in which 587 persons are awaiting engagement in lieu of land even as it has engaged 861 persons earlier under the same policy.
In 2006, Muhammad Ramzan Mir of Shopian donated 10 Marlas of land to PHE department for construction of water supply scheme in lieu of engagement of his grandson in the department.
Mir got an agreement in the court with PHE department on engagement for the job and possesses all documental proof verified by the land collector and officials concerned of the PHE department that he is a donor of 10 Marlas of land and in lieu of that the officials have formally assured him engagement of his son.
Mir, whose documents have been verified by the Land Collector, Senior Engineer, Executive Engineer and others, said that he donated his propriety land after the PHE department assured in written that it will engage my son as employee in the department.
"But the SRO issued on December 21 in which the government has put one kanal cap is grave injustice to us. When we donated land, there was no SRO then and the department assured us engagement of my son into the department," the aggrieved Mir said.
"I would not have donated my land to PHE had there been any cap for land. I have donated land decades ago when there was no such SRO," he told The News Now.
Along with Mir are donors like Mukhtar Hajam of Kachhama Kupwara who has donated 14 Marlas to PHE, Ghulam Rasool Dar of Handwara who has donated 18 Marlas, Zahoor Ahmad Sheikh of Shar Shali, Pampore, who has donated 16 Marlas and hundreds of others across Jammu and Kashmir to PHE and other departments.
"The SRO issued on December 21 should not be implemented on us as we donated the land years ago when there was no SRO or any cap for engagement. It is arbitrary and deprives us of the promised jobs," the angry donors said.
The donors said they have mutated their proprietary land with the departments only because for jobs.
"Even those donors have got jobs who have donated 5 or 6 Marlas of land for government projects," they said.
Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu, who is the architect of the new regularization policy and drafting of SROs, did not reply to the repeated calls from The News Now.
Minister for PHE Sham Lal Sharma also did not respond to calls from this reporter.
Mir threatened to close down the structures if the SRO is not amended that donors like him accommodated in the policy of engagement.

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