Equating self-reliance in power production with financial autonomy, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday said that the bright future of Jammu and Kashmir, possessing tremendous hydro energy potential, is in optimum utilization of water resources for power generation. The chief minister was Inaugurating Drungi Micro Hydro Power Project of 3×3.33 MW capacity on Ferozpur Nallah in Tangmarg launched under IPP mode by a local company on Thursday.
The Drungi Micro Hydel Power Project completed at a cost of Rs. 90 crores has been financed by the Jammu and Kashmir Bank. The project will provide electricity to the local areas of Tangmarg and Gulmarg and prove highly beneficial for the area especially during the winter season.
“My target is to make Jammu and Kashmir power surplus State and strengthen its economy to such a level where from it need not to plead for Central assistance time and again for every development work”, he said maintaining that his government has already laid edifice for this stupendous goal and various projects with generation capacity of 9,000 MWs are presently under implementation.
Omar Abdullah disclosed that after his persuasion at the Union Government level, the Centre has allotted 130 million-ton Coal Block for Jammu and Kashmir which would enable the State to generate 1000 MWs of power for a period of over 25 to 30 years.
“I may not be in a position to sell this achievement during 2014 elections as the work on establishment of Thermal Power Project may take some time but I am satisfied that my government has made a remarkable dent in the power generation sector to bring welfare and financial autonomy to the State”, he said and asserted that the economic autonomy is as important as that of political one.
The Chief Minister said that Jammu and Kashmir has sustained constant and irrevocable loss due to Indus Water Treaty in which the two neighbours (India and Pakistan) distributed rivers. He said that all the three rivers of Jammu and Kashmir were given to Pakistan without having any care for the future of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Production of green energy from water resources is not only one of the cheapest form of power generation but it is also environment friendly”, he said maintaining that the holistic development of Jammu and Kashmir and the welfare of its people is in the power development, as such, the government, he said, has flagged power sector as one of the most important sectors in the State’s Policy Planning. He said that under a multi-pronged approach development of power sector has been focused taking care of all aspects of production, distribution and transmission.
Inaugurating Drungi Micro Hydro Power Project of 3×3.33 MW capacity on Ferozpur Nallah in Tangmarg launched under IPP mode by a local company, the Chief Minister said that Hydel Power Projects with 9,000 MW capacity have been targeted for execution during 12th and 13th Five Year Plans under the State, Centre and IPP sectors and this initiative would help the State to generate more power than is needed locally.
Omar Abdullah said that since the day he took over as Chief Minister of the State, he has focused on the indigenous generation of power utilizing the maximum of 20,000 MWs generation capacity available in the State. He said a New Hydel Policy has been notified in 2011 and a Power Company also constituted to give considerable fillip to the power generation in the State.
“My target is to realize the dream of people of the State to relish 24 hour power supply and also export the surplus to other States of the Country”, he said and called upon the local entrepreneurs to come forward like Mr. Nazir and Mr. Mudassir (owners of Drungi Micro Hydel Power Project) and take up the projects reserved for locals under the New Hydel Policy. He said Jammu and Kashmir Bank have been asked to provide finances to the local entrepreneurs in this regard liberally. He said investment in power sector will always be a gainful economic activity for entrepreneurs and he wants that locals should venture in this sector.
The Chief Minister said that water resources and natural beauty are the two advantages of Jammu and Kashmir. “While tourism initiative can improve the economy of people and generate various job oriented activities but it cannot make the good of the financial deficit of the State whose total annual income is just over 7,000 crores and expenditure on salaries of government employees alone is Rs. 13,500 crore. He said the government is not receiving any tax from tourism sector and this sector is also not as vibrant as that of power sector which can revolutionize our economy”, he said and referred to the major hydro electro projects like Retle, Baghlihar-II and various others under execution in the State particularly in Chenab Valley.
Referring to the tourism activities in Gulmarg, the Chief Minister expressed dissatisfaction over the reports of uncalled for pressure tactics employed by the pony-wallas on tourists for pony riding. He said the hospitality and high quality service to tourists which has remained the traditional trait of the people of the Valley should be maintained under all circumstances and its impact should be visible from the faces of visitors. He said that honesty and high manners should remain the character and characteristic of every stakeholder in tourism and tourist trade to help its flourishing and strengthening.
“Your impact and well behaviour should encourage visitors to visit here again and again”, he emphasized and said that income earning from tourist sector is the right of all but it should not be at the cost of the name and fame of the State. “We have reports that there are about 7,000 Pony-wallas operating in Gulmarg as against 1,500 registered. Their functioning and treatment with the tourists is not upto the standard as should have been. We could have not allowed the unregistered ones to work but for their livelihood government is not taking this step. However, it should not mar the basics of tourism trade and create bad impression in the minds of visitors. If it goes unchecked the day will come when tourists do not like to visit Gulmarg”, he said and asked Pony-wallas and others in tourism trade to sit with the concerned government departments and work out strategy and situation where they could earn their livelihood respectfully as also earn the most required good will of the tourists.
The function was also addressed by Minister for Agriculture, Ghulam Hassan Mir and Minister of State for Power, Viqar Rasool while the MLA and Provincial President Kashmir, National Conference, Nasir Aslam Wani, Principal Secretary Power, A. K. Mehta, Chairman Jammu and Kashmir Bank, Mushtaq Ahmad, Managing Director, State Power Development Corporation, Basharat Ahmad Dhar and various officers were present at the function.