MANAGING ECONOMY

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-cases houses too. Banking sector has Rs 740 crore bad assets.

“We have stakes in this economy and that is why we never lose an opportunity to find ways to invest,” Mushtaq Ahmad, CMD J&K Bank said. “We have massive presence in the state that no other competitor can match and we are adding another 100 branches this year.”

The media, says Ajay Kumar Sadhotra, an NC lawmaker and a minister in Dr Farooq Abdullah government, is essentially a fault finder. “Why do not you see how many days were there for development and betterment of the economy of the state? Omar Abdullah took over at the end of 2008 agitation, 2009 summer was devoured by the Shopian deaths and 2010 was unrest in Kashmir,” he asked. “2011 was the first working summer and you see the development on ground.”

For the first time, he said, we have introduced third parties to assess the quality of the work being executed on ground and started e-tendering for everything that is above Rs 50 lakhs. “This government signed the MoU to set up the joint venture with NHPC for implementing three major power projects to generate 2150-MWs of clean energy in J&K by 2018,” Sadhotra said. “For the first time in India’s history we opted for tariff based bidding in allotting the 810-MW Rattle power project on BOOT basis.”

J&K is water abundant but energy deficient state. Year after year it spends a fortune on purchasing power but is unable to collect tariffs as the T&D loses are around 71 percent. “We have reduced T&D loses by around 1.8% in last two years but we can have huge jumps,” a senior officer said. “There is slight improvement in tariff collection as well.” Against tariff collection of Rs 888.53 crore in 2009-10, J&K collected Rs 969.59 crore in 2010-11. The energy purchased by the state for the two years was of the orders Rs 1992.46 crore and Rs 2309.94 crore, respectively. For the current fiscal power purchase will create a record!

A senior officer at the policy making level said the government is working specifically on two issues. Firstly, to increase generation in the state by around 6000 MW by the end of 12th FYP through NHPC and the J&K owned Power Development Corporation by way of JVs, under BOOT and through independent power producers. Right now it is in the process of negotiating the cost escalations in the Baglihar second phase and within a few months the efforts for a financial closure will start.

Secondly, the government intends to unbundle the distribution network and has already appointed a consultant. Thirdly, it wants a turnaround plan for the entire distribution network and TERI has already drafted Rs 7384 crore plan of which Rs 3237 are in sight. For the rest of it, the government is in the process of knocking at Delhi doors. “We understand the problems being faced at the skilled human resource level and we are after the NHPC to start constructing its training institute in Kangan,” the officer said.

Omar is not oblivious of the environment he is working in, said a senior officer. “Problems are there for everybody to see but I would be the last person to disagree with the voices saying Omar wants consolidation before actually unveiling his vision of development,” the officer said. “He took a hit of Rs 54 crore for honouring the previous government’s commitment towards 300 primary schools and let me know a case in which he did not ensure additional funds for projects started earlier.” The officer said there were many policy reforms so far that included managing structural deficit of Rs 3000 crore by agreeing to ways and means of the RBI and now introducing the PPP in health sector. “There are six projects ready to be offered to private sector on PPP basis,” the officer said.

But critics are unimpressed. “Three years are enough to showcase dynamism of a young leader,” a middle aged entrepreneur said on the request of not being named. “Is there something that this coalition can stake credit for other than the corruption and lack of accountability?” Quipped a middle rung officer: “We are in the process of taking the government from 130 (read lawmakers) to 35000 (elected members of panchayats across J&K). Let us wait and enjoy the change.”


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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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