Rejecting Delhi’s Package, Trade Wants Mufti Step Down

Riyaz Ul Khaliq



KCSDS member Shakeel Qalandar addressing media on Wednesday in Srinagar. (Pic by: Bilal Bahadur)
KCSDS member Shakeel Qalandar addressing media on Wednesday in Srinagar. (Pic by: Bilal Bahadur)

The Civil Society and Trading fraternity Wednesday termed the relief and rehabilitation package announced by Union Government on Tuesday as “shocking and unfortunate”.

Addressing a joint press conference at Sangarmal Shopping Complex in Srinagar as valley is observing shut down against Sopore killings, the traders and civil society said that they shall start an agitation to get state power projects back from National Hydro Power Projects (NHPC).

Asking CM Mufti Muhammad Sayeed to quit coalition with BJP, the traders said they are “ready to embrace” the PDP patron.

Pertinently, Union Ministers, Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley, Tuesday announced an additional package of Rs 1600 Crore. Although the last dispensation headed by Omar Abdullah had put damages caused by September 2014 floods over Rs One million Crore, it had submitted a package of Rs 44500 Crore to Union government last December.

“The package announced by the Union government on Tuesday is humiliation and we are completely dejected,” Sheikh Ashiq Hussain, president KCCI, said. “We are heading towards economic disaster; the September 2014 deluge devastated our economy.”

He added that there has been no economic activity for last ten months now.

Kashmir Economic Alliance (KEA-Y) chairperson, Muhammad Yasin Khan said that when PM Narendra Modi last year visited Jammu and Kashmir post floods, the trading community demanded compensation for the damages caused by the floods.

“We are stakeholders being tax payers to state, so government is bound to rehabilitate our damages,” he said.

Terming the package as unfortunate, Khan asked PDP to quit coalition on moral grounds. “MLAs should resign and join their people.”

Noted Industrialist and KCSDS member, Shakeel Qalandar rejected the package and said that tall claims of Government of India (GoI) have been exposed.

“We (Business fraternity/Civil Society) reject the package announced on Tuesday; the claims of GoI that they are friends and brethren have been exposed,” he said.

Detailing about the Rs 44500 Crore, Shakeel said that when Union government can distribute compensation in Lakhs in Uttrakhand two years ago then why same procedure can’t be followed in case of J&K. “Rs 7 Lakh have been paid to every house hold in Uttrakhand and GoI is giving only Rs 1.5 Lakh to Kashmir.”

“Last government had demanded Rs 9 Lakh per household which were fully damaged in floods and waive off in loans but nothing has been given,” he said. “GoI claims that they paid Rs 1602 Crore through NDRF but state government only received Rs 1100 Crore; Rs 502 Crore were paid for Helicopter rescue sorties in which TV crews were on-board,” he said.

He termed the figures given by Union HM and FinMin as wrong. “They have included money which was given under Dr Manmohan Singh’s Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Program which is ridiculous,” he said.

Strongly reacting to statement of Union Power Minister, Piyush Goyal in which he had said that ‘State should Change its Mindset’, Qalandar said, “as if we are beggars; Power Minister has talked as if we are receiving aid in misery.”

Piyush Goyal had asked state government to exploit 10000 MW water and with the investment by NHPC, state would get 1200 MW in return.

“NHPC is an illegal and unconstitutional occupier; it has no right to operate from J&K,” he said. “We will rehabilitate people on our own; let NHPC return our power projects,” he said adding, “We can generate an economy of Rs 6000 Crore annually through these projects.”

He warned that the Civil Society shall launch an agitation against NHPC and throw it out of the state. “We reject the joint pact signed by last government.”

“We tell government to send NHPC back on its own, don’t let people come on roads,” he said. However, Shakeel could not satisfy the media personnel how could they (Civil Society and Trading Fraternity) rehabilitate people of whom damages cross over Rs one Million Crore.

President FCCI, Muhammad Ashraf Mir said that the coalition of PDP-BJP is ‘Marriage of Compulsion’.

“Mufti Sahab you have failed your promises which you made before elections, step down now,” he said addressing J&K CM Mufti Sayeed. “Join us now; or you will go for divorce tomorrow.”

“The situation has developed in a way that Jammu traders are standing against us now; a single AIIMS type of institute was given to Kashmir and now Jammu too has been given; now, we demand same IIM and IIT as well or else we will go for agitation,” he said.

Noted columnist and academic, Dr Javaid Iqbal termed the “Agenda of Alliance” and “Agenda of Silence”. “The package is mere shocking,” he said.

He said that Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal with his statement “State Should Change its Mindset” has ‘slapped-in-face’ the state government.

“NHPC has manifolded its profit from state and if they can mange such huge money from our resources, we demand that they should invest in development of backward districts of state,” he said. “The development of such areas should be priority; J&K is a single unit and 2011 census should be basis of such initiatives.”

Replying to questions, the traders said that PDP bragged that it took them two months to finalise “Agenda of Alliance” but now they have got nothing. “PDP should resign from government on moral grounds.”

KCCI president, Sheikh Ashiq claimed that Dr Drabu didn’t incorporate their suggestions in preparation of budget. “We have had pre-budget meetings with Dr Drabu but he did what he liked,” he said.

“The announcement of Rs 1600 Crore package signifies that the Finance Ministry hasn’t pursued Rs 44500 Crore package with interest,” he added.

The traders expressed shock over what they said “Dr Drabu expressing satisfaction over announcement of Rs 1600 Crore package”. “We also believed that FinMin Dr Haseeb Drabu is expert in economics but salt has been rubbed on our wounds,” they said.

The Civil Society also raised concern over what they claimed “partial” distribution of funds. “The GoI has announced package in housing sector for only Kachha houses and out of 8000 damaged Kachha houses, Kashmir has only 8000,” they said. “Meaning Kashmir will get around Rs 65 Crore; it was an urban flood, we’ll see to it.”

When asked whether sending back NHPC only strategy in rehabilitating the flood victims if GoI doesn’t announce any other relief package, the traders said, “we have only this option; we had held press briefings in foreign press club and foreign agencies had extended helping hand but ironically Indian government did not allow that and now they (GoI) are giving us peanuts.”

“Indian government owes us over Rs 3 Lakh Crore by violating Indus water Treaty; let them pay us our dues, we will never ask them for nay package,” Qalandar replied to a query adding, “we will protect our resources.”

The trading fraternity rejected the allegations that the group is only pursuing rehabilitation cases for themselves only. “We have Socio-Economic responsibility; we are pursuing case of general masses.”

Deliberating upon addressing media jointly, the trading members and Civil Society said, “we’ve united; we’ll strategise and secure our resources.” “We will send the illegal occupier (NHPC) back.”

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