Chairman DDMA ‘surprised’ over Mayor’s OSD calling him for meeting

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SPL CORRESPONDENT

SRINAGAR: Chairman, District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) and the Deputy Magistrate of Srinagar has taken umbrage over the ‘Officer on Special Duty’ with the Mayor in Srinagar calling him and other senior officers for a meeting regarding a 70-bed COVID facility set up at the Community Hall of Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC).
Vide his No: SMC/PS/HM/174-88 Dated 19-05-2021, the OSD to the Mayor had called 15 officers, including seven of the SMC and the DC Srinagar in his capacity as Chairman DDMA Srinagar, to attend a meeting with the Mayor at 2:30 PM on May 20, 2021. While some of the officers attended, DC Aijaz Asad was conspicuously absent from the meeting.
The DC did not respond to phone calls but his subordinate officers said that nobody had the authority by law to issue directions to the Chairman of District Disaster Management Authority under the Disaster Management Act 2005. “The Mayor has the status equal to a Minister of State (MOS) in the order of precedence for his seat at an official ceremony. But he is issuing orders as ‘Minister of State’ which is completely illegal. There’s neither Assembly, nor a political government nor any Minister after 18 June 2018”, said an officer.
“DC Saheb is on a tour with Justice Magray Saheb. We informed him about it. He was surprised over this kind of a call from the SMC to him as Chairman DDMA”, he said.
“Some Panchayat representatives have got status equal to DC. Does that mean that they will act and issue orders as DC”, asked another officer. “If the government wants to delegate the powers of Ministers and DCs, it should get the DMA 2005 amended in the Parliament. Let them function then as Ministers and DCs”. He pointed out that the Mayor of Jammu or his OSD was not issuing any such orders.
“The Mayor (MOS), Srinagar has desired to convene a meeting to take stock of the current status of Covid-19 in the city and discuss future strategy for containment of the spread of the pandemic including functioning of COVID wellness centers established by Srinagar Municipal Corporation in his office chambers on 20-05-2021 at 2.30 pm”, reads the OSD’s letter addressed to the 15 officers.
Others called for the meeting included Director Health Services Kashmir, Principal Government Medical College Srinagar and Medical Superintendents of different hospitals in Srinagar.
The DDMA officials asserted that there was no designated post of ‘OSD to Mayor’ in SMC. “OSDs are always with Ministers, not Mayors”, said an official. According to him, calling the senior officers without any mandate and authority for a meeting constituted disruption in the COVID Management and the same was a gross violation of DMA-2005.
“We have already installed as many as 1,300 COVID beds at the five facilities at Indoor Stadium, Sir Syed Marriage Hall, Sanat Nagar, Haj House, University of Kashmir and the National Institute of Technology. We are adding another 700 beds in the next few days. How can we spare time in the thick of this job for a 70-bed municipal facility which has been in fact set-up by an NGO”, an official asserted.
According to these officials, under the DMA-2005 there is a specific chain of command and control and it flows only through the Union Home Secretary at the national level, Chief Secretary at the State and Union Territory Level and the District Magistrate/ Deputy Commissioner at the District level. “If the government wants to create a parallel set up, nobody can have an objection. Let there be necessary Parliamentary amendment to the law. For now, this is for Lieutenant Governor and Chief Secretary to ensure that there’s no confusion and duplicity of channels”, said an officer.