Estates department should be audited
Seeking and acquiring a government accommodation by the state employees during their service period is their right, but the same government accommodation is being misused by those who are either working in the private sector or have used their clout to secure a government accommodation. These people feel it as their right for enjoying the privileges at the cost of the tax payerís money.
Kashmir valley is such place where the biggest of scams can be exposed if at all the details of the government accommodation being provided to people is made public. There are thousands of cases that point out that the accommodation meant for government employees is grabbed by people under the garb of various tags and these people are enjoying almost property rights on these accommodations.
The worst part is that the upkeep and maintenance of these accommodations is borne by the governments estates department with no scrutiny allowed to expose the nexus that is costing the state exchequer loses to the tune of crores of rupees every year.
Though the government too admits that some illegal occupants occupy the government accommodation but what is being done to evict them is another story that needs various answers from various quarters.
Just yesterday the government issued some SoP for ensuring speedy eviction of illegal occupants of government accommodation. The government has decided to impose heavy penal rents on such unauthorized occupants with immediate effect. But can we say what action has the estates department taken over the past years against such occupants.
As per the SoP, if the official accommodation is not vacated by the occupant within one week of the issuance of final eviction notice, penal rent five times of the prescribed rent shall be charged for the first month of the overstay. If the accommodation is not vacated after the expiry of first month, the penal rent 10 times of the prescribed rent shall be charged for the next two months. If the accommodation is not vacated even after three months, the enhanced penal rent 20 times or as per market rates in vogue to be worked out by Public Works (R&B) Department, whichever is higher, shall be charged.
Though the estates department felt it prudent to mention that a number of illegal occupants of Estates accommodation have neither vacated the official accommodation occupied by them nor responded to the communications/notices issued by the Estates department from time to time.
The illegal occupation of government accommodation not only infringes upon the rights of the other genuine claimants, who are in need of government accommodation for smooth discharge of their duties, but also costs loss to the state exchequer as the state has no responsibility towards those who are running commercial activities from government accommodations or have used their influence to take control of several accommodations at various or similar locations.
The accommodation part apart, there are numerous instances where the estates department has gone out of the way to provide all the facilities including modern gadgetry for use of the inmates who are being put up in these government owned accommodations.
For this the people enjoying power have been using the estates department for their personal benefit and these unauthorized measures have taken a legal shape over the years because of non-interference by the top bosses.
The corruption and the nexus of providing government accommodation to the no deserving people has touched new heights as different rates have been fixed for seeking different accommodations in various locations. The government should immediately announce an audit of the estates department for the last several years and get the details of the money spend on upkeep of the accommodations besides seeking details and whereabouts of the gadgetry that has been put to use by at these accommodations.