Congress leader from Jammu and Kashmir CM Ghulam Nabi Azad has finally vacated his rent-exempted government accommodation in Srinagar’s VVIP zone, which used to be a lifetime perk assured to all former chief ministers of the state until the abrogation of Articles 370, that stripped away state’s separate status.
The move comes ahead of November 1 transition when the state would be officially bifurcated into two union territories-Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh. Azad had been the chief minister of state from November 2005 to July 2008 and had kept the possession of a J&K Bank guesthouse at Zeethyar on Gupkar Road all these years, even though he doesn’t live in Srinagar. According to a J&K Bank official, the former CM has vacated the guesthouse but the administration has not yet handed back the property to them.
In addition to Azad, other former CMs who are availing the lifetime perks of staying in government accommodation have also been directed to vacate their respective residences. Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, both of whom still reside in government allotted properties will also have to vacate their bungalows by November 1.
Many of the former CMs have taken the advantage of the Jammu and Kashmir State Legislature Members’ Pension Act, 1984, which provided them with the authorisation to use the government properties and amenities for the rest of their lives. However, after November 1, all these benefits will cease to exist when the Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill 2019 comes into action.
The administration has appointed a team which has started listing all government assets in the bungalows, including furniture, gadgets and gym equipment, in preparation for the change. Barring Azad, every former CM has spent crores of rupees on revamping and furnishing their official bungalows according to their requirements. Omar Abdullah’s bungalow has a modern gym, among other additions.