On the 10th August, 2009, while presenting the first budget of the present government, I had unfolded the broad contours of the mission employment for the youth of the State under the banner of “Sher-e-Kashmir Employment and Welfare Programme for the Youth” briefly named as SKEWPY. Our Hon’ble Chief Minister, Janab Omar Abdullah Sahib had released the SKEWPY document on the 5th December, 2009. The SKEWPY has documented, for the first time, the multipronged initiatives which the government has decided to take and pursue relentlessly towards solving the burning problem of un-employment and assuring a meaningful and respectful life for our youth, full of creativity and satisfaction as per their inherent talent and acquired skills. This document helps the government in ceaselessly maintaining its sharp focus on all the issues related to the crucial problem of unemployment. Being conscious of the fact that all the Hon’ble Members of this August House feel equally concerned about this problem, I again crave their indulgence to apprise them about the progress made by the government on implementation of SKEWPY during the short period of just over one year.
The government had announced Voluntary Service Allowance in favour of the unemployed youth under SKEWPY. The scheme has been recast twice to make it more beneficial and to extend its scope to cover a larger number of unemployed youth. Presently, 91,000 unemployed educated youth are expected to come under the ambit of this Scheme. The amount of monthly VSA has been increased and the eligibility conditions have also been relaxed. During the coming financial year, a provision of Rs 40 crore is being proposed to be utilized on VSA scheme.
The Entrepreneurs Development Institute (EDI) has been assigned a target of preparing 5000 entrepreneurs under its Entrepreneurship Development Programme (EDP), during the next five years under SKEWPY. It has already started the training programmes for preparing entrepreneurs under the seed capital scheme launched under SKEWPY. So far, 44 batches of successful trainees have come out from the Srinagar and Jammu campuses of the Institute, comprising of 1,624 entrepreneurs hailing from Kashmir, Ladakh and Jammu. More than 600 projects prepared for them, are under examination for funding. Out of these projects, 316 cases involving investment of Rs 41 crore have already been approved by the J&K Bank which is a strategic partner in the seed capital scheme of SKEWPY. Seed capital of Rs 6.35 crore has already been approved by the EDI under SKEWPY. The number of entrepreneurs prepared by EDI under SKEWPY is expected to cross 2000 by the close of the current fiscal.
The EDI has already taken up more batches of entrepreneurs for imparting ED training, identifying appropriate projects for them while they are receiving their management training, preparation of bankable DPRs and referring the DPRs for appraisal and sanction by the J&K Bank. The EDI aims to extend this Entrepreneurship Development Programme from its existing two campuses to other district level centres for which they are presently engaged in capacity building exercise. A schedule of 29 additional Entrepreneurship Awareness Programmes (EAPs) to be organized in areas like Kishtwar, Doda, Ramban, Poonch, Rajouri, Basohli and Billawar etc has been finalized in order to make the youth of these remote areas aware of the benefits of Seed Capital Scheme. A sum of Rs 50 cr has already been approved in favour of EDI to meet the seed capital requirements of these and future entrepreneurs. A provision of Rs 25 crore has been proposed for the purpose during the next fiscal.
Twenty-two District Employment and Counseling Centers (DECCs) have been approved to be constructed at the district level. After identification/acquisition of land, Administrative Approvals have already been accorded in respect of most of these DECCs. Action is also being taken to accord Administrative Approval for construction of DECCs at the remaining places as soon as land becomes available. In respect of Leh and Kargil, requisite funds have been transferred to the respective Autonomous Hill Development Councils for construction of DECCs at these places.
A massive technical training programme has already been unfolded through the PMRP and Skill Development Mission. Under these initiatives, 12 existing ITIs are being provided with Women Wings. Nine women ITIs have been completed at the cost of about Rs 33 crore. Upgradation and expansion has been approved in respect of existing ITIs at a cost of Rs 37 crore. Under the Vocational Training and Improvement Programme of the World Bank, 10 ITIs are being upgraded at a cost of Rs 21.50 crore. Seventeen ITIs have been additionally sanctioned as Centres of Excellence under the PPP mode at an approved cost of Rs 42.50 crore. Five more ITIs are being established under PMRP.
Functioning of Rural Self Employment Training Institutes (RSETIs) has marked a beginning with the J&K Bank and the State Bank of India starting the first such training centres in a few districts. Under this programme, 40 lakh youth have to be technically trained to take-up jobs in the expanding job market by the year 2022. The Technical Education Department has prepared a separate document to arrange for and monitor the technical training programme under Skill Development Mission. A high powered State Council headed by Hon’ble Chief Minister has been constituted to oversee the implementation of this programme.
An Over-seas Employment Development Corporation has been already registered with the Registrar of Companies. The Corporation has started functioning.
NASSCOM were engaged by the government to prepare and train our youth for taking up jobs in the expanding Information Technology market. A high powered Task Force under the stewardship of Hon’ble Chief Minister has been constituted to monitor the progress of this programme.
Various Government departments are engaged in creating employment opportunities in their respective fields. Major sectors chosen for exploitation of employment potential are poultry, sheep husbandry, dairy, commercial floriculture, information technology, food processing, sericulture, handicrafts, handlooms, tele-communication, electronics, IT and manufacturing in various fields for local and outside markets. These departments have planned to create over 25,000 jobs through private enterprises, including 15,000 jobs in poultry, dairy and sheep husbandry sectors.
The Sheep Husbandry Department has sanctioned schemes for setting up of private sector units comprising of 50 sheep units and 25 sheep mini units at the cost of Rs 2.75 lakh each. A subsidy of Rs 60,000 per unit shall be provided by the government. Initially about 200 units are proposed to be established during the current year. During the next year a target of 1000 units is being proposed for which a budgetary provision of Rs 6 crore as subsidy is being kept in the budget.
The Fisheries Department has taken-up major initiative of providing employment through private sector fish farms based on carp fish as well as trout fish. A subsidy/grant of Rs 2 lakh per unit is being provided by the government. In the current year, the number of such trout farms has reached 90 and the number of carp farms opened so far is 180, taking the total number of government sponsored fish farms in the private sector to 834. The private sector trout farms are being supplied with fish meal from the feed mill of the Fisheries Department for one year, free of cost. A new high capacity feed mill is going to be installed very shortly to boost production of fish meal and multiply the number of private trout farms, thereby generating additional employment, economic activity and supplementary income to the fish farmers as also to add to the availability of nutritious food stock in the consumer market.
Eight thousand youths have been engaged as social service volunteers under the Prime Ministers initiative for J&K Youth. The department of Labour and Employment is arranging recruitment rallies and placement sessions by the private sector coming from outside the State to facilitate recruitment of the local youth. Employment melas are being frequently organized at the district level to create awareness among the youth about various benefits and schemes available under SKEWPY. The unemployment data are also being regularly updated by the newly sanctioned DECCs in a digitized mode.
The State Government has done exceedingly well in implementation of MG-NREGA programme. Very recently, the J&K Government was awarded as the best performing State in respect of generation of employment under MG-NREGA. A sum of Rs 223 crore has been spent as wage disbursement ending January, 2011 in the current financial year. The corresponding employment generated is 131.59 lakh mandays.
The Women Development Corporation has already registered about 2,000 units in the current financial year exclusively for women entrepreneurs under various Schemes. It hopes to appreciably increase its next year’s targets when the same are finalized in consultation with various sponsoring agencies.
The self employment scheme of the State Government is being revamped and rejuvenated. A high level Employment Facilitating Agency comprising of the Ministers Incharge Finance and Employment and senior government officers is regularly monitoring the implementation of SKEWPY and all other employment related programmes. Hon’ble Chief Minister is himself periodically reviewing the progress of implementation of SKEWPY both in quantitative and qualitative terms.
The process of recruitment in government services has been going on with full vigour and priority. The coalition government has cleared the backlog of appointments to a large extent in the last two years by appointing 26,866 unemployed youth in various government services. Additionally, 12,453 posts have been referred to the PSC and the State Services Selection Board against which selection process is going on. The Government has also decided to engage 43,000 persons on daily wage basis to take care of developmental and maintenance needs of various departments.
The Expert Group headed by Dr Rangarajan, on Employment in Jammu & Kashmir constituted by Hon’ble Prime Minister of India has recently submitted its Report which has identified some additional areas of action, particularly in the fields of training, skill upgradation and placements. We are examining this Report which is likely to help up greatly in upgrading SKEWPY.
I have stated previously also in this August House that tackling of unemployment problem is our common concern. Accordingly, I have been seeking valuable advice of Hon’ble Members of this House in identifying other unexplored areas where employment issues can be effectively tackled or for making any modifications in the approach hitherto adopted by us under SKEWPY. I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate my request.