The last two decades have seen various prime ministers announce a flurry of economic packages for Jammu and Kashmir. The state government is expecting another on Dr Singh’s visit next week, however politicians of all hues seem to be unwilling to debate: why should J&K need a package? KASHMIR LIFE reports on the essence and hype accompanying the packages.
As part of the spadework ahead of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit on October 18, two planeloads of central bureaucrats spent two days in Srinagar. Perhaps, for the first time for a central delegation it was less of leisure and more of business. Led by cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekhar the secretaries and the additional secretaries had one on one meeting with the concerned officers, a joint meeting with the entire bureaucracy and with the chief minister and finally with the deputy commissioners who are the actual executing and monitoring centres at the district levels.
“We presented the case for a liberal funding of identified projects in the state,” a senior official who was part of the series of meeting told Kashmir Life. “But so far, we have been successful in getting an assurance on three issues,” he said referring to Mughal Road, Dal, and Baglihar projects.
As already made public by the state government, New Delhi will now fully fund the expenditure on Mughal Road. This 84-km track that will give Kashmir almost a six-month hassle free connectivity with the twin border district of Poonch and Rajouri was initially supposed to cost Rs. 255 crore and it was made part of Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP) in November 2004 on 50:50 funding pattern, half to be invested by the state government.
As the Hindustan Construction Corporation (HCC) started work, the costs went up to Rs. 639.85 crore. After spending Rs. 270 crore and making it a fair-weather single lane road fit for light vehicles, state says it is unable to manage its share. The request has been accepted by the central government.
Dal has been a festering mess. Since the days the current Congress president Prof Saif-ud-Din Soz as National Conference leader was a Union minister, the Lakes & Waterways Development Authority (LAWDA) is implementing Rs. 298.76 crore plan to restore the lake. Against Rs. 143.62 crore that were released by the government so far, it has booked an expenditure of Rs. 139.55 crore amid series of scandals and rackets in successive regimes.
LAWDA genuinely believes that conservation efforts will yield no results as long as scores of villages living within the lake are shifted out of the water body. For the structure they live in and for acquiring the land the inhabitants legally own, LAWDA wants Rs. 356 crore. Government says the central bureaucrats have approved it.
Also assured is a grant of Rs. 1000 crore that will go as state’s equity in the Baglihar power projects phase II. The first phase of Power Development Corporation’s (PDC) Baglihar was completed early this year with New Delhi contributing Rs. 630 crore. For the second phase, that PDC planners say would cost Rs. 2500 crore, state government is seeking Rs. 1000 crore to fund its part of the share. Rest will be loan. The state government announced that this request was also approved.
But this is fraction of what planners here were expecting. They had projected a requirement of a package requiring funds to the tune of Rs. 8500 crore. Projecting it as PMRP-II, it envisaged Rs. 1000 crore for power, Rs. 994.10 crore to urban development, Rs. 394 crore to industries, Rs. 354.10 crore to education, Rs. 20 crore to tourism besides Rs.3151.86 crore to health and medical education and Rs. 2435.94 crore to roads.
Another hope was that the massive exercise that Dr C Rangarajan carried out as head of a multi-member task force for long-term social and economic development of J&K may not go waste. Set up in later 2005, the former RBI governor had many big shots in public and private sector as its members. After more than a year it submitted its report to the Prime Minister in late 2006.
Later when the Roundtable Conference on J&K led to the constitution of the five working groups, the one that was tasked to give the blueprint on economic well being of the state was again led by Dr Rangarajan. It was almost the same set of recommendations that he made there as well in his report submitted to the RTC in April 2007. Though the subsequent regimes have been seeking its implementation, the response is not different from what has –