KL NEWS NETWORK
Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Friday termed the package of Rs.80,000 crore announced by Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during his rally on November 7 at Srinagar as wholesome, adding it takes care of equitable development of all the three regions of the state.
He said the Prime Minister is totally focused on development of J&K and he has lived up to his promise of supporting its transformation as a model state.
The Chief Minister made these comments while addressing a press conference here this morning during which he spelt out broad contours of the package. He also answered a flurry of questions related to talks with Pakistan, rehabilitation of PoK refugees, connectivity and setting up of AIIMS and Smart Cities in the state.
The Chief Minister was flanked by Deputy Chief Minister, Dr. Nirmal Kumar Singh, Minister for Finance, Dr Haseeb A Drabu, Advisor to the Chief Minister, Prof Amitabh Mattoo and Chief Secretary, B. R. Sharma.
Addressing media-persons, Mufti Sayeed said he takes pride in the performance of his government which has been in power for a little over eight months only. He said the 14th FC Award has assured complete financial devolution and every state has got its share in Central funds. “In nine months whatever funds the government has spent on connectivity, health, rural development and education sectors have been in our kitty,” he added.
Thanking the people for their overwhelming response to the Prime Minister’s rally last week, the Chief Minister said there is a level of satisfaction in what the State Government has done since March this year. He reiterated his commitment to provide good governance and strengthen the institutions so that the system becomes responsive to the needs of the people. “We have done well on most indicators and now that the development package has been announced, we will move in fast-track to create durable assets, besides providing succor to flood victims and security and welfare to displaced persons,” he said and added that his Government’s endeavor would be to ensure that every penny is spent for people’s welfare.
Reaffirming his resolve to provide relief to every victim of the colossal floods of 2014, Mufti Sayeed said it will be for the first time when people will be provided monetary help for reconstruction of their damaged houses and for infrastructure as well as restoration of livelihood for traders and small-time businessmen. “A comprehensive plan for protection of river Jhelum at a cost of Rs 1100 crore is part of the development package, besides Rs 2000 crore that will be spent on restoration of flood-damaged infrastructure,” he stated.
The Chief Minister said for a fully-damaged pucca house, an amount of Rs 3.00 lakh will be provided while as Rs 1.5 lakh will be provided to those who have a fully-damaged kutcha house.
Similarly, a severely-damaged pucca house will be provided financial assistance of Rs 1.00 lakh while as a severely-damaged kutcha house will be given Rs 0.50 lakh, he added.
On the issue of improving road connectivity in the state, the Chief Minister described the package announced by Narendra Modi as a continuation of what former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee did in his tenure as Prime Minister when he announced North-South and East-West corridors to connect National Highways. He thanked the Centre for prioritizing widening of road stretches from Udhampur to Chenani and from Chenani to Ramban, Ramban to Banihal and Banihal to Srinagar which will enable the people to complete Srinagar-Jammu journey in only four hours.
The Prime Minister, during his visit, had also laid foundation stone of widening of these two road stretches at a total cost of Rs 4306 crores.
The Chief Minister gave elaborate details of major projects under road infrastructure which will ease the distances and movement of people across the regions and sub-regions of the state. These include construction of Zojilla Tunnel at a cost of Rs 9000 crore, Kargil-Zanskar-Leh Road (Rs 4000 crore), two-laning of Srinagar-Shopian-Qazigund Road (Rs 1800 crore), four and two-laning of Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch Road (Rs 5100 crore), construction of tunnels at Lachulunga Pass and Tanglang Pass on Manali-Leh section (Rs 5000 crore), upgrading Srinagar-Uri-LoC Road, double-laning of Srinagar-Leh Road via Kargil and Uri-Kaman Post (LoC) at a cost of Rs 233 crore and Chenani-Sudhmahadev-Khilani Road with tunnel at a cost of Rs 2100 crore. He said construction of tunnels of Mughal Road and Kishtwar-Sinthan-Anantnag road would be taken up in the State sector.
The Chief Minister also announced construction of semi-ring roads in Jammu and Srinagar cities at respective costs of Rs 1400 crore and Rs 1860 crore.
Under the development package, fund allocations have been kept for double-laning of Batote-Sinthan-Kishtwar-Anantnag Road at a cost of Rs 130 crore.
In health sector, the Chief Minister stated that two AIIMS will be constructed at a cost of Rs 2000 crore each while as Rs 900 crore will be spent on upgrading District and Sub-District Hospitals and PHCs.
Highlighting the huge potential of the state in new and renewable energy, Mufti Sayeed said two pilot projects of 20 MW each for Leh and Kargil will be started to harness solar power potential. He said this will just be a modest beginning since the state has a potential of generating 1 lakh MW solar power. “Rs 100 crore has also been provided for solid off grid home systems and solar street lighting in the state,” he added.
The Chief Minister also thanked the Centre for keeping an allocation of Rs 2350 crore for installation of small hydropower projects and Rs 3790 crore for augmentation of power infrastructure and distribution systems.
In order to fully tap the tourism potential of the state, the Chief Minister said the Centre has announced Rs 2000 crore package. This will be besides the Rs 100 crore which has been kept for restoration of flood-damaged tourism infrastructure.
To upgrade infrastructure in cities and towns, an extensive allocation has been made in Housing & Urban Development Sector, with Rs 744 crore to be spent under AMRUT, Rs 193 crore under Swach Bharat and Rs 500 crore Smart Cities. “The state’s liability of Rs 163 crore under erstwhile JNNURM will also be released under the package,” he revealed.
Describing the rehabilitation of PoK and Chhamb refugees as a huge step, the Chief Minister said it has happened for the first time that Rs 2000 crore will be spent to ameliorate their sufferings He said the package will also takes care of Kashmiri migrants for whom 3000 jobs will be created, besides enhancing intake capacity at different transit accommodations set in Kashmir.
Replying to a question on West Pakistan refugees, Mufti Sayeed described this as a humanitarian issue and added that the government will look into their problems.
On the law-and-order front, the Chief Minister said Rs 500 crore have been earmarked for improving system ingredients and logistics. He also said that the Centre has enhanced stipend of SPOs from present Rs 3000 to Rs 6000, which will come as a huge relief to thousands of police personnel.
A separate allocation has also been kept for five IRP battalions for the state which will create job opportunities for 4000 youth in the state.
In the handicraft and textile sectors, the Chief Minister said the Centre has announced Rs 50 crore Pashmina promotion project in the state.
Later, replying to the questions posed by media persons on India’s relations with Pakistan, the Chief Minister said dialogue with Pakistan is an ongoing process. He said there is no option but reconciliation with Pakistan as prolonged confrontation with Islamabad adversely hampers development of the state. “Talks with Pakistan are part of our Agenda of the Alliance. During former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s tenure, we had peace with Pakistan and tranquility on borders. I am hopeful, we will be able to create similar atmosphere,” he added.
On a specific question asked on PDP’s alliance with BJP, Mufti Sayeed said everybody is free to express views in his party. “Dissent is the essence of democracy. Everybody has a right to express his/her views,” he stated.
Responding to another query, the Chief Minister praised PDP President, Mehbooba Mufti for tirelessly working in the field and strengthening the party base. “Consolidation of the party base is not because of me but Mehbooba as I find very little time for party affairs,” he said and added Mehbooba is a grassroots leader.
Mufti Sayeed also stated that his government will hold elections to local self-government institutions so that people at the grassroots level are fully empowered.