City Mayor Orders School Closure, Div Com Says No

Mayor says he has power under Corporation Act 2000
Srinagar, Mar 11 (CNS): In what seemed to be tussle of power between Srinagar Municipal Corporation (SMC)Mayor and Divisional Commissioner Kashmir (Div Com), the latter set aside the order of the Srinagar Mayor, Junaid Mattu, who earlier on Wednesday, made announcement of the closure of all schools within SMC limits, following the threat of spread of Coronavirus (COVID 19).

According to CNS hours after Junaid Mattoo announced the closure of educational institutions in Srinagar, the Div Com Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan said that the decision of closing down or opening up of the educational institutions is an administrative matter, which only government has to decide.

Mattu had quoted special set of statutory provisions, while ordering the closure of all educational institutions, public clubs, sports clubs, indoor and open stadiums, coaching centers within the city limits till further orders.

In his tweet, a couple of hours before, Junaid Mattu had said that the order will take effect from Thursday.

However, a little later the Div Com Kashmir Baseer Ahmad Khan nullified his order, saying that it was an administrative decision and needs a government order.

He however was quoted as having said that suggestions of the Mayor will be discussed in a meeting convened by the Chief Secretary.

He said that it was the Chief Secretary who can take a decision about the issue and the administration is for its implementation.

Meanwhile Mattu retorted saying that he was well within his domain to issue such order and he did not need anyone’s stamp on the order issued by him.

He tweeted a screen shot of Article 285 of JK MC Act, 2000 with reference to powers, entrusted to him under which, he has the powers to order special measures, in case of a pandemic or the threat of any outbreak of the epidemic.

Later in the afternoon, addressing a presser SMC Mayor, Junaid Matto said Despite the government statistics that no case of Coronavirus has been reported in the city, he feels that it is his responsibility as the City Mayor to take precautionary measures, to avoid the Coronavirus threat and that nothing happens.

He said that it is not my suggestion to close the institutions, but a special emergency resolution passed unanimously by elected corporation under full authority vested in to take such measures in situations like these under the J&K Municipal Corporation Act, 2000.

He said, “There may or may not be any positive case, I am taking these precautions to ensure that nothing happens.”

“For that I am ready to take any amount of criticism”, he said.

In reply to a question regarding reports about closure of Jawhar Tunnel, in view of Coronavirus threat, Mattoo said, “There is nothing to worry about. We have full faith in administration and the steps they are taking. Whether tunnel is closed or not, it is for administration to decide, but we as the corporation are doing our work to be prepared to face any eventuality.”

“There is no need to panic, but taking things lightly is not also wise”, he added.

Meanwhile, sources in government have indicated that a decision regarding closure of all schools or otherwise would be made soon. (CNS)

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