Srinagar: A delegation of Unapproved Newspapers’ Association on Friday called on Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly Speaker, Kavindra Gupta, and appraised him about the difficulties faced by them for the failure of Information Department to hold meeting of Empanelment Committee to entitle them for government advertisements.
According to news agency GNS, the delegation told the Speaker that the owners of the newly registered newspapers who are publishing their newspapers from last five to six years are suffering a lot as the Information department does not hold any such meeting since last five years to empanel them.
“If in previous years, the J&K information department would have smoothly held such meetings well in time, the already pending cases would not have been there. Why the department is not holding any such meeting since last more than five years? Why they have to wait three years more if they have already passed the time frame?” they said.
It should be noted that the empanelment meeting by the Information Department should be held every year as per the norms. However, the Department has not convened any such meeting from last more than five years as a result these newspapers are suffering a great deal.
The delegation told the Speaker that in June-2015, the government led by then chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had formed the empanelment committee and had assured to hold the meeting soon. However, no such meeting was held by the empanelment committee till now.
The delegation told the Speaker that editors of the Association also had series of meetings with the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Information Minister Priya Sethi and the then Principal Secretary to CM, BB Vyas regarding the empanelment last year. However, despite agreeing to association’s proposal by the late Chief Minister, nothing was done, they said.
The delegation while expressing disappointment over the attitude of the State Government said whenever any legislator raises the issue of empanelment of newspapers, the Government evades the answer by raking up establishment of press club. “Every time, the Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar on behalf of Chief Minister diverts the attention from main issue,” said the delegation.
The delegation requested Speaker to direct the concerned quarters so that the empanelment meeting takes place sooner rather than the later.
On the occasion, the Speaker assured the delegation of all possible help.
Meanwhile, Surinder Ambardar of BJP today raised the same issue of empanelment of unapproved newspapers in the Legislative Council and said the owners of these newspapers are suffering. Replying in the House, the Education Minister Nayeem Akhtar said government is doing everything it can for the assistance of these newspapers but added that the Government has to strike balance.
The Minister said that advertisements are provided to Newspapers and magazines after completing the qualifying prescribed period for the same. He said that the Government is providing various facilities and incentives to Journalists of the state which include granting accreditation to access sources of Information in the Government.
He said the accredited journalists get concession in Railway fare and the current rate of concession in Rajdhani and Shatabdi trains is 30 percent and 50 percent respectively. The Minister informed that visiting journalists are also being provided accommodation in circuit houses at Jammu, Srinagar and Kashmir House, New Delhi at concessional rates. He said residential accommodation is also made available to accredited journalists in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Government. (GNS)