Prolonged Protests, Tensions and Evacuations Adding to the Economic Distress, Drabu says


Dr-Haseeb-DrabuBy Ritu Sarin

The Indian Express

The current unrest in the Valley should no longer be seen as a “one-off” occurrence, and extended periods of protests and tension should now be “factored into” the governance of Jammu and Kashmir, state finance minister Haseeb Drabu has said.

Drabu told The Sunday Express that strikes by the Indian military along the Line of Control (LoC) have been carried out in the past as well, but this is the first time that India has “owned up” to such action.

“This (LoC strikes) has been done, for instance, when Home Minister Lal Krishna Advani followed the hot pursuit policy. The only difference is that the present government has shown political will and owned up to it,” he said.

The prolonged protests, tensions with Pakistan, and evacuations will add to the economic distress the state was facing, Drabu said.

“We have to recognise that what we are witnessing is not going to be a one-off situation,” he said. “We have to factor strikes and disruptions into our administrative and governance systems and evolve a protocol for it. In future, we must try to pre-empt it rather than do a post facto situation analysis. We tend to see these disruptions as an aberration, which they are not. We have to see them as part of the process of governance in J&K.”

Drabu, who was in the capital to attend the GST Council meeting, said that once the framework for the new legislation became clear, they would have to work on reconciling it with the special status enjoyed by the state.

The J&K finance minister said the extended protests and lockdown had ensured virtually no transactions for almost three months and therefore, very little sales tax generation. In six months, the exchequer had earned only Rs 4,000 crore, which represented a huge shortfall.

“The pace of economic activity has surely shrunk. The state’s economy has shrunk,” he said. “Investment has been impaired especially in bank-funded projects, and I am aware of the fact that established business houses have decided to move out of the state,” he said, but declined to name the industries or business establishments that had taken this decision.


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