Finance Minister Abdul Rahim Rather on Thursday formally demanded return of Dulhasti and Salaal Power projects from NHPC. Rather was speaking at the 57th National Development Council (NDC) meeting which was held for the finalization of 12th five year plan (2012-17) at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. The plan aims to achieve economic growth target of 8.2 per cent.
While speaking in meeting on behalf of chief minister Omar Abdullah, Rather said, “As the overall security situation in the state has progressively improved during past two years, the state economy is now at take-off stage, for which the state government needs continued support of the center to put it on the path of high growth trajectory, which is both sustainable and inclusive.” He confirmed that economic growth during the 11th Five Year Plan has been extremely positive, at 38%. However, the mounting power deficit has remained a matter of concern.
Rather while finalizing the 12th Five Year Plan documents said that centre should replace tied Special Plan Assistance (SPA) with Untied Special Central Assistance (SCA) adding that releases of funds should be made upfront for the states like J&K where the working season is very brief or a system of proportionate allocation be made so that there is no liquidity mismatch in the state.
While demanding for the compensation for the losses suffered by the J&K state due to discriminatory provision of Indus water Treaty, Rather said, “A beginning in this regard could be made by returning the power projects commissioned on the state rivers. And to begin with, Dulhasti Hydro Electric Project and Salal HEP could be transferred to the state government.” He also demanded enhancement of the quantum of free power (Home State Share) available from the Central Generating Stations, set-up within the state, to a minimum of 25% against the present free power of 12% and reiterate it here as well.
In meeting Rather sought grants to the tune of Rs. 800 crore for completing 1160 approved PMGSY schemes and liberal central funding for devolution of the resources to the Panchayats including payment of honorarium to the Panches and Sarpanches. Rather also sought central assistance for taking up comprehensive City Mobility Plan with an investment of over Rs. 30,000 crore during the 12th Five Year Plan. He said, in case of special category states, the pattern of financing for all the centrally sponsored schemes should conform to the 90:10 patterns and the expenditure on police establishment, which is Rs 2500 crores annually, in excess of the average normal requirement should be funded separately by the central government, as it addresses National Security Concerns having cross-border dimensions.
Rather informed the members of the NDC that there is remarkable improvement in the overall security situation in the state and now the focus has to be shifted to ensure faster, balanced and inclusive growth. He said the improvement in the security situation has resulted into highest ever tourist arrivals including over 1 crore Vaishno Devi pilgrims, about 6.2 lakh Amarnath Ji Yatris, 1.80 lakh tourists to Ladakh and 13.14 lakh tourist to Kashmir valley. Peaceful environment also helped in successful conducting of panchayat elections which will be followed by elections to the Block Development Councils shortly, said Rather.
Finance minister also raised certain concerns for increasing LPG cap in respect of the J&K state to a minimum 12 cylinders annually in view of peculiar geo-climatic conditions, sub-zero winters in most areas and remoteness of certain areas of the State.
While urging the centre to provide a plan size of about Rs. 68000 crore and the requisite kitty to finance it in a non-debt creating fashion, Rather said it was necessary to achieve the target of 8% average growth in the 12th plan period in real terms and to ensure steady, faster and more inclusive and sustainable growth, which have been made the touch stone of 12th plan strategy by the Planning Commissioner of India.
Rather said it is imperative to dedicate bulk of our resources to priority sectors besides promoting private and public investment. “To make it inclusive, we need to enhance the outlays under special component plans like JNNURM, NRHM, NSAP, SSA, RMSA etc. Conservation of ecology and environment, contemporizing traditional products through innovation and design besides the special employment initiatives to make growth job oriented to address the aspirations of the youth will be our factors”, Rather asserted.
Complimenting the Prime Minister for his initiatives for improving relations between India and Pakistan, Rather said that the Jammu and Kashmir, instead of being the bone of contention, can become a bridge of friendship among two nations and hoped that the economic development of the two countries can get a boost, if scare resources are invested in programs of development and poverty alleviation. “Maintaining that peace is a sine qua non for the development of Jammu and Kashmir State, “Rather said all steps need to be taken to pursue external dialogue process and initiating internal dialogue with diverse political opinion.
The NDC meeting was chaired by the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh and attended by Union Cabinet Ministers, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, S Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Chief Ministers of different States, Members of the NDC and concerned officers. And the J&K State was represent by the Deputy Chief Minister, Tara Chand, Chief Secretary, Madhav Lal, Principal Secretary Planning and Development, B. R. Sharma and concerned officers.