The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill, 2021 was discussed and passed in Lok Sabha. The Bill seeks to merge the J&K cadre with the AGMUT cadre for All India Services. Speaking on the Bill, the Home Minister briefed the House on the status of developmental programs in the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019.
He noted that elections to the panchayats were held peacefully last year, and saw 51.7% voter turnout. He added that 21 administrative subjects have been fully devolved to the panchayats and Rs 15,000 crore have been provided. Addressing questions about restoring statehood to Jammu and Kashmir, the Minister assured the House that it would be done in due time.
During the debate, Members raised concerns over the question of constitutional validity of the J&K Reorganization Act, 2019 still pending before the Supreme Court. Some Members asked for an all-party delegation to be sent to J&K to have first hand information about the state of affairs. The Speaker noted that a Parliamentary Standing Committee had recently visited the UT.
Two Bills were also introduced in the House: The Tribunals Reforms (Rationalisation and Conditions of Service) Bill, 2021, and the Constitution (Scheduled Castes) Order (Amendment) Bill, 2021.
During Zero Hour, some Members requested the government to consider restarting the MPLAD Scheme, if not fully, at least partially, for the next year. One Member said that the program helped with infrastructure development in the country. The MPLAD Scheme was suspended in 2020 to raise resources to address COVID-19.
Earlier in the day, the general discussion on the 2021 Budget came to a close with the Finance Minister’s reply in Lok Sabha. Parliament will meet again on March 8, 2021 for the second part of the Budget Session.
Numbers to note
5 oil spills have taken place in the last four years in the Indian Maritime Zone, the Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change informed Lok Sabha. Two of these accidents took place in and off Kamarajar Port in Ennore, two near Vizag and one in Mumbai Harbour.