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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014

Kashmir govt 'throws' 700 young entrepreneurs 'out-of-business'

Ashiq Hussain, Hindustan Times  Srinagar, January 08, 2013
First Published: 20:47 IST(8/1/2013) | Last Updated: 20:51 IST(8/1/2013)

It seems officials and administrators of Jammu and Kashmir government do not take seriously what chief minister Omar Abdullah preaches in public. Since taking the reins of the state in 2009, Abdullah has been repeatedly asking youth to look for self-employment but on ground those taking the initiative are forsaken by his government.

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At-least the fate of around 700 budding entrepreneurs of Kashmir valley prove this point beyond doubt. In 2009, these professionally educated youth started common services centers (CSC) locally called Khidmat Centers across the villages of Kashmir valley as part of a project of Union government.

The scheme considered as the Cornerstone of National e-Governance Plan was the basic model across the country to offer web-enabled services in rural areas.

While the scheme may be a success in other part of India, but three years down the line, not a single service has been outsourced to these outlets in Kashmir. The indolent attitude of the state government and its implementing agency, J&K Bank has left these young entrepreneurs bankrupt and debt ridden.

"The kiosks are ready. We have bought the equipments like computer and other networking devices after getting loan from J&K bank. We have also hired the space mandatory for which we are paying monthly rent. But the problem is that neither the government is sub-letting its online services to us nor the bank," said Tanveer Haji, a resident of Kashmir's frontier district of Bandipora.

The centers were scheduled to offer facilities like providing government application forms, DOB and death certificates, utility payments such as electricity, telephone and water bills through village level kiosks connected to internet and equipped with latest Information technology. The state handed over the implementation of the scheme to Jammu and Kashmir bank.

"I was drawing a handsome salary in Delhi before deciding to take the initiative. But here we are tossed like a football by the government and the bank. The bank interest on loan is piling up. Some among us have started to sell personal properties to repay the loan," said Haji who is an MBA. 

State's department of information technology is washing its hands off the problem. "Our work was to provide the infrastructure. We also short listed around six government departments like revenue, social welfare, and labour to outsource their services to Khidmat centers. But we can't force the departments," said information technology minister, Aga Ruhullah.

Spokesman of J&K bank, Sajaz Bazaz also dismissed any plans of outsourcing its major services. "Our work was to establish the units and provide loans, services have to be outsourced by government which has not been done as yet," said Bazaz.

"For the past many years government departments are digitizing their records. We don't know how much time it will take to complete the automation work," he said.


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