Ruckus over mining lease to non-local in JK; Speaker orders inquiry, says House insulted; Opposition seeks resignation of Minister; BJP joins anti-government protest
Speaker of J&K Legislative Assembly Kavinder Gupta Friday ordered an inquiry into issuance of mining lease to a non-local in Jammu and Kashmir under a controversial notification that was put on hold by him, while remarking that the Government has “insulted” the Chair and the House.
The Speaker, while questioning the Government decision, directed for strict action against erring officials after members, cutting across parties and including those from BJP, created pandemonium in the House, alleging that the Government decision was in contradiction to J&K’s special status.
As soon as proceedings began in the House this morning, CPI (M) legislator MY Tarigami revealed that the Government has issued “No Objection Certificate” to one Mohanpal Singh of Chandigarh for undertaking mining operation on 40 hectare of Ravi river in Jammu under SRO 105.
Tarigami said even the Pollution Control Board (PCB) has issued clearance to Singh on June 22 despite the fact that the notification had been put on hold by the House on June 2.
“This is an insult to the House, to the Chair. The grant of mining lease is a clear violation of the Article 370,” said Tarigami. “This is an insult to Article 370. We will not allow Jammu and Kashmir to be put on sale.”
The SRO-105 was put in abeyance by the Speaker following protests in the Assembly by opposition members who had termed it as violation of the Article 370. The Speaker had also constituted a committee which was tasked with presenting a report on the matter by July 15.
In the melee, Targami was joined by members of opposition National Conference and Congress as the entire opposition demanded resignation of Minister for Industries and Commerce Chandra Prakash Ganga and strict punishment to officials involved in the “fraud” of taking the House for a ride.
“This is breach of the House. It is a big crime,” said National Conference’s Muhammad Akbar Lone, demanding suspension of Commissioner/Secretary, Industries and Secretary Pollution Control Board.
Shouting anti-Government and anti-Minister slogans, the members demanded answer from the Government for violation of the Article 370.
Responding to the opposition, Ganga said he was “unaware” of the matter.
Amid commotion in the House, some PDP and BJP members joined the opposition in its protest.
PDP’s Altaf Bukhari demanded cancellation of all lease orders which have been approved by the Government under SRO-105.
The BJP too joined the anti-Government protests seeking cancellation of the mining lease.
“The order is in violation of the Court directions. This is mockery of the House,” said BJP lawmaker Rajeev Jasortia.
Intervening, the Speaker said he had issued order to the Commissioner/Secretary, Industries and Commerce Department, regarding the decision to keep SRO 105 (related to mining) in abeyance.
“This chair (of the Speaker) has been insulted, it is unfortunate. This House has been insulted,” said the Speaker.
The Speaker directed an inquiry into how the order for sanctioning the lease was passed despite the stay on it by the High Court, even as the House committee was examining the SRO 105.
“Strict action should be taken against these officials so that no one dares to repeat such a thing,” he said.
The Minister Ganga who tried to make the statement was interrupted by opposition members, raising demands that the Minister should resign.
Amid the din, the Speaker intervened, allowing the Minister to make the statement.
“I assure this House that this (lease) hasn’t come to my notice. We will examine it and there will be action against whosoever is involved,” the Minister said.
The Revenue Minister Syed BasharatBukhari while intervening on the issue said the official who has issued the order should be placed under suspension with immediate effect.
Later during the afternoon proceedings, the Speaker said the Minister for Industries and Commerce would make a statement on the matter in the House on Saturday morning.