Congress stonewalling CM’s scheme of creating 700 administrative units

The Congress high command on Tuesday night resolved its difference with the coalition partner National Conference over the creation of new administrative units in Jammu and Kashmir with the intervention of the NC patriarch Farooq Abdullah as it was decided that the Cabinet Sub-committee would submit its report on January 31 -- the deadline set by Chief Minister Omar Abdullah -- and the State Revenue Department would process 2100 recommendations before formulating its final report for the Cabinet sanction.

Highly placed political sources in Srinagar, Jammu and New Delhi revealed to The Hindu that “on an advice from 10-Janpath”, the AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni held detailed discussions with the Union Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah and convinced him over the suggestion of getting all the 2,100 recommendations processed by the State Revenue Department before seeking Cabinet sanction to creation of the new administrative units.

“It was agreed that the Cabinet Sub-committee, comprising three each Ministers from Congress and NC, besides the Congress associate member and Minister Ghulam Hassan Mir, will submit its report to the Cabinet on January 31. It will include the proposal of all the 900 units recommended by Mushtaq Ganai Committee plus the Sub-committee’s own recommendation of 1200 administrative units. The Cabinet will refer all the 2100 recommendations to the Revenue Department which will process the proposals in the light of the Bloeria Committee guidelines on delimitation of the units and formulate the final report for the Cabinet sanction”, said a source privy to the late night deliberations.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, staying at Gulmarg for the night, was called by Dr Abdullah and apprised of the outcome of his talks with the Congress leaders. He would return to New Delhi on Wednesday and make the final settlement with the AICC leadership, said a source close to the Chief Minister.

Sources in New Delhi said that the AICC headquarters expressed “displeasure” over the way Deputy Chief Minister Tara Chand and some other leaders from J&K were “mounting tensions” between the two parties. “Now that the Congress is left with just two coalition partners -- NC and NCP -- J&K Pradesh Congress leaders have been asked to maintain harmony with Omar Abdullah’s party. They have been asked why they failed to resolve this crisis in Jammu”, said a source.

Former Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had set up a committee, under the retired Chief Secretary S.S. Bloeria, for preparing guidelines for demarcation of different administrative units including Tehsils, Nayabats, Sub Divisions, Rural Development Blocks and Panchayat Halqas in 2007. Later, the Omar Abdullah government assigned the task of the identification and demarcation of new administrative units in 2010 to the retired IAS officer Mushtaq Ganai. The Cabinet Sub-committee was constituted in July 2013 to process recommendations of both the committees. However, differences have crept in between the coalition partners over the timing of taking the crucial Cabinet decision, that involves requirement of about Rs 1,000 crore, besides the proportion of certain units between Kashmir and Jammu divisions.