Enjoying multiple accommodations


Sixty two legislators of almost all major political parties were holding multiple accommodations, both from Estates Department as well as MLAs' hostel in rotational capital cities of the State at Jammu and Srinagar. In a number of cases, the Estates Department of the Government held by Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has hired private accommodation for the legislators at a huge cost causing burden on the State exchequer.Official figures revealed that even those legislators, who have their own houses in Jammu or Srinagar have also availed either rooms at the MLAs' Hostel or quarters from the Estates Department for which the Government had to incur whopping cost as the Department had to hire private accommodation due to lack of adequate quarters. Significantly, legislators of almost all major political parties, who quite often differ with each other on host of issues, leading to clashes in the Legislature, were united in availing "undue benefits" of multiple accommodation for themselves in Jammu and Srinagar. Of 62 legislators, who were beneficiaries of multiple accommodations in the twin capital cities, belonged to ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), main opposition parties including National Conference and Congress, CPM and some Independents.
Majority of 62 legislators mentioned in the official report have availed four accommodations from the Government including Estate Department's quarters or houses and room at MLAs' hostel at both Jammu and Srinagar while few of them have taken accommodations at two or three places. Political observers questioned that when a legislator has been allotted accommodation in the MLAs' hostel at Jammu or Srinagar, why should the Estates Department hire private house for accommodating the same legislator at the same place at a very high cost, thus, putting burden on the State exchequer. They pointed out that majority of houses taken on rent by the Estates Department for accommodating legislators in the capital cities were in the posh localities of Gandhi Nagar, Trikuta Nagar and Channi Himmat etc, where the rent is very high. Similar was the position in Srinagar, they said. The figures revealed that legislators of ruling PDP and BJP were major beneficiaries of the multiple Government accommodations. A total of 18 PDP and 13 BJP legislators have been allotted houses by the Estates Department in Jammu and Srinagar, apart from rooms at MLAs' hostel in Jammu and Srinagar. They were followed by 12 legislators each from National Conference and Congress. It may be mentioned here that the issue of multiple accommodation was also underlined by Comptroller and Auditor General of India in its report tabled in the State Legislature last year but no concrete action or decision was taken on it by the State Government. In the CAG report, the Estates Department was blamed for not following policy guidelines and rules in allotment of Government accommodations especially to political leaders. It was mentioned in the report that non adherence to prescribed allotment norms or policy for accommodation in private hired hotels has resulted in avoidable extra-expenditure to the tune of Rs.19.02 crores during the period between 2010-11 to 2014-15 and also non-eviction of unauthorized occupants from private hotels and houses had resulted into avoidable expenditure of Rs. 13.95 crore. The State Accountability Commission has also taken cognizance of the revelations made by the CAG.

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