Reiterating the demand for transferring back the Central Sector Hydroelectric Projects to the State, as recommended by Rangarajan Committee, Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah Friday strongly advocated transfer of Salal and Dulhasti Power Projects to J&K free of cost making an appropriate provision for compensation to be paid by the Central Government to NHPC.
Addressing the joint meeting of 14th Finance Commission and State Government top level officers here this morning, the Chief Minister made a strong case for raising free power quota from existing 12 percent to 30 percent in all Centre Sector HEPs in the State.
“The Rangarajan Committee has recommended certain hydroelectric projects to the State free of cost. We reiterate this demand and request that requisite compensation to NHPC for such projects be paid by the Centre Government”, he said and sought compensation to the State for Indus Water Treaty that restricts Jammu and Kashmir from exploiting hydel power and irrigation potential in full measure.
The Chief Minister in his speech while welcoming the Chairman and the Members of the 14th Finance Commission expressed the hope that the Memorandum submitted by the State Government to the Commission will fully depict the financial difficulties of the State and the Finance Commission will be able to take a liberal and pragmatic view in this regard.
“We in Jammu and Kashmir have passed through difficult times and faced daunting challenge of reconstruction of an insurgency battered economy. Also since inclusive and equitable development of the three regions of the State stands at the core of our government’s agenda, the delivery of basic services and public goods across the diversity and remoteness of the State requires generous and sympathetic financial support”, he said and expressed thankfulness to the Planning Commission and the Centre Government for their support during the last five years period.
“The 13th Finance Commission indeed gave us a very generous award. We are hopeful that the new Government at the Centre and you as the 14th Finance Commission would view our constraints, concerns and expectations through a positive and sympathetic lens and help us in carrying forward our development agenda of building on peace dividends”, he said and mentioned the saga of long years of militancy which brought enormous burden on the scarce resources of the State.
Omar Abdullah dwelt in detail on the increase in expenditure on security related aspects including police in the State during the last about 25 years and underlined the need for compensating the State fully on this account by the Centre Government.
The Chief Minister made the mention of the State Government’s initiatives to harness vast hydel power potential to upgrade State’s financial position and said “we have started indigenous projects of over 1400 MWs in this tenure against 750 MWs launched in last 60 years. Edifice stands laid to generate 9000 MWs of energy over the next seven years. With this kind of generation, we cannot only be self-sufficient for our energy requirements but can also have a considerable surplus income for the State”. He urged the Finance Commission to also strongly recommend transfer of Central Sector Hydroelectric Projects to the State after expiry of 30 years in each case and in the interim raising of free power quota from 12 percent to 30 percent in respect of Central Sector Projects.
On delivery of social services to people living in extreme climatic and geographical conditions and to the cold desert of Ladakh, Omar Abdullah said that this is a big challenge of governance and to bridge the administrative outreach gaps, the State Government has recently created 46 Sub-Divisions, 135 Tehsils, 177 CD Blocks, 301 Niabats and 2526 Patwar Halqas. He said that creating necessary infrastructure and manpower for these units in short span of time demands availability of ample financial resources and “we look to your help and support in this regard”.
The Chief Minister mentioned the initiatives taken by the government to provide responsive, transparent and accountable administration and referred to the enactment of Legislations like J&K Public Service Guarantee Act 2011, establishment of Institutions of State Information Commission and Vigilance Commission and added that eleven new services have been added to PSGA taking the number of total services under its ambit to 80.
“Suitable amendments are being proposed in the J&K Prevention of Corruption Act to make it more stringent for carrying forward the crusade against corruption. The government have also introduced 3rdParty Monitoring of development programmes to ensure complete transparency and accountability. The State won accolades at the National level for implementing the Results Framework Document (RFD) aimed at making governance result-oriented and making performance appraisal more scientific”, he added.
The Chief Minister sought generous award from 14th Finance Commission for the State and said that the Memorandum presented by the State Government to the Commission in this regard lists need driven and the State specific demands to give impetus to economic activities. He mentioned the holding of Panchayat Elections in the State against all odds after a gap of over 30 years and said that these institutions are now eagerly awaiting to perform a greater role in the arena of local self governance and “their needs also merit your special attention”, Omar said.
The Chief Minister said that J&K has come out of very difficult and prolonged phase of militancy. He said the revival of horticulture, tourism, and handicrafts, is a very strong demonstration of positive change. “We hope that the confidence of outside investors for giving push to industrial and manufacturing activities particularly in the Valley will receive further boost in the times to come”, he said and concluding his speech while saying “we all aspire for the growth and development of a prosperous Jammu and Kashmir founded on the cherished values of brotherhood, tolerance and harmony. Considerable success has been achieved in the realization of these objectives and our achievement will be far more meaningful if all sections of our society reap the dividends of our success. We need fullest support in this journey.
In his key note address Chairman 14th Finance Commission Dr. Y. V. Reddy referred to the dynamism of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah and appreciated his efforts to seek holistic development for Jammu and Kashmir.