‘RTO, transport commissioner, traffic police offices citadels of corruption, festering sores’

Syed Junaid Hashmi

JAMMU, Dec 28: Jammu and Kashmir State Finance Commission (JKSFC) called Office of Regional Transport Officer in Jammu and Kashmir regions separately, sub-offices in various districts, postings in traffic department alongwith the office of transport commissioner citadels of corruption and such festering sores, which compelled it to name them in public interest.

These stinging remarks have been made by Jammu and Kashmir State Finance Commission (JKSFC) in its five-volume report submitted to the state government on November 30, 2010. Apart from calling these offices as ‘festering sores’, SFC report has taken sharp notice of corruption in the office of excise commissioner with the involvement of excise and taxation officers besides referring to the office of sales tax commissioner where sales tax officers indulge in extreme corrupt practices.

It has advised the government that posting of officers in Transport, Sales Tax, Traffic and Excise department, known widely as lucrative postings should be made after due scrutiny of names and those officials who always hanker for such jobs should not be given these postings. Besides, operating procedure must be standardized and made known to the people at large. The grant of plethora of permits, licenses, release of salaries, stipends and permits must be regulated most transparently.

Commission has taken the corruption in these offices so seriously that it has asked the government to take the issue with sobriety since neglecting the same would cast lurid light on the administrative apparatus and erode credibility of governance. It has further said that registration of documents and procurement of judicial and revenue papers, certificates should be made grant free.

The commission has gone to the extent of saying that a general impression is that nothing can possibly be done without greasing the palm. It has further stated that supply of the extracts of revenue registers, permanent resident certificates, copies of FIRs, grant and renewal of ration cards, gun licenses and driving licenses must be quick and corruption free. It has asked the government to take special care of the offices known as citadels of corruption by installing close-circuit cameras in these offices to be monitored either directly by controlling authorities or under their strict supervision and responsibility.

Going to the root of corruption, SFC has said that a vehicle entering Lakhanpur should be quickly disposed off in a few seconds and given a visible sticker to be displayed on the windscreen. There should be no second or third checking, which the commission says is generally for extortion and causing harassment to the public. Traffic police should be detached from J&K Police and placed under the traffic management system headed by Transport Commissioner, commission has advised.

It has said that all public funds should be treated as sacrosanct and no extravaganza of any kind should be permitted. Besides, Government vehicles should not be used for private purposes and the practice of two to three security vehicles following a minister should be avoided. It has added that security related expenditure may be responsibility of union government but the matter needs to be regulated as it creates traffic congestion and causes additional pollution.

The commission has advised against using pilot vehicles and said that these should be used sparingly only for the Governor and the Chief Minister. It has pointed out that extending largesse in the form of medals, increments and out of turn promotions have invariably proved counterproductive and must be avoided.  Commission was headed by ace economist Dr. Mahmood-ur-Rehman and included Swami Raj Sharma, Prof. Nisar Ali and Sonam Dawa as its members. It took on board three consultants and 7 officers of the state government.