Underscoring the need for working out amicable solution to political issues of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the aspirations of people of Jammu, Kashmir, Leh and Kargil to the larger extent, chief minister, Omar Abdullah Tuesday said that the task is tough but not impossible. “The Jammu and Kashmir has been reflected in Shimla Agreement and there is need to engage Pakistan in a dialogue process”, he said and maintained that his government would help as catalyst and facilitator in the process.
“To move forward with the notion of a solution having approval of each and every citizen is just to live in a make belief world”, he said adding that a solution with maximum support of people of all the regions of the state has to be found. “We have to strive for it”, he emphasized and expressed the hope that the Union government would address both domestic and international aspects of political issues of Jammu and Kashmir and move close to some befitting solution.
On AFSPA, Omar Abdullah said that he will continue to advocate its gradual removal from the areas where there is no need for it and that of Army. “I have not put this issue on back burner. It is alive and we are continuously engaged with the central government on this issue”, he said adding that a woman from North-East area is on hunger strike for last 12 years demanding revocation of AFSPA.
On aftermath of Afzal Guru’s hanging, chief minister said that he had no other option but to impose restrictions in the Valley to safeguard the lives of people. “Imposition of curfew was my compulsion to control the situation and safeguard the lives of people, otherwise who would like to create difficulties for people”, he said and appreciated the people for extending him support to control the situation and help safeguard precious human lives. He also appreciated the role of security forces in this regard.
Replying the debate on the motion of thanks to Governor for delivering speech to the members of both the Houses, chief minister told Legislative Council that Jawaharlal Nehru and Late Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah like ‘great leaders’, in the past, focused on resolving this issue. “We should not lose heart. We should continue our efforts till we come close to some amicable and befitting political solution”, he added.
Stating that peace is essentially important for resolving all issues and putting the state on road to progress and prosperity, Omar Abdullah said that during the last two years peace has greatly rooted and the year 2012 can be safely rated as the most peaceful year in last over 20 years. “Besides the visit of over 12 to 13 lakh visitors to the Valley, the development process received big fillip during 2012”, he said and reiterated that his government flags tourism as an economic activity and not a barometer to gauge the normality. He said the visit of huge number of tourists to the Valley, successful panchayat elections and conduct of peaceful Amarnath yatra do not mean that no political issue is left unresolved now. “If we think otherwise, we are mistaken”, he said.
The Chief Minister said the state got highest ever plan this year and the challenge before the government is how to make expenditure to yield maximum results for public good. “The second challenge before the state is how to stand on its own legs so far as economic aspect is concerned”, he said elaborating that during the coming years Jammu and Kashmir would be getting enhanced plan year after year. “We have focused on effective governance, transparency in functioning, third party monitoring, e-governance and other measures aimed at improving and upgrading delivery and making transparency rule the roost”, he said adding that his government has initiated two more initiatives of Result Framework Document (RFD) and monitoring of projects utilizing mobile photo dispatch mechanism.
Omar Abdullah said under RFD the performance of the departments would not be judged on the financial expenditures made by each department during the year but on the basis of physical targets achieved by it and the actual benefits accrued to the people out of these. He said every department has to fix the physical targets as per the budgetary provisions and by the end of year its performance would be judged on the achievements realized on this count. He said that by the mobile photo dispatch mechanism, the monitoring officers can get the photo details of the status of progress on different works from all across the state.
On law and order situation, chief minister said that 2011 and 2012 have been relatively peaceful years and the graph of militancy has come down by 37 per cent. Lauding J&K Police and CRPF for working in difficult situation in the state, chief minister said that police force has to attend two different situations of law and order and militancy simultaneously in Jammu and Kashmir. He saluted the courage of police force for tackling both the situations at the cost of their precious lives and safeguarding the lives of common people.
On Model Police Act, Omar Abdullah said that the Supreme Court of India has directed for implementing Model Police Act in the states to make the existing acts more people-friendly and transparent. He said there was also need to have a reformed Police Act in force in the State, as such, a Draft Act was formulated. “Government is not tabling this Act in the Legislative Houses at present. It has been put on website for public comments. When these comments come in, these would be reviewed and reflected in the Act. The Act will be then reviewed by the Police and Law Departments. It will be placed before the Cabinet and after that the Bill will be drafted to be placed before the Legislative Houses and after getting clearance from the both the Houses it will go for Governor’s assent”, he said adding that creating false propaganda and rumors about this Act holds no ground.
On Panchayats, Omar Abdullah said that his government is actively working with the Central government for providing honorarium and group insurance to the panchayat members adding that the strengthening of security grid, police patrol, identification of vulnerable belts and area domination is being done to ensure safety of panches and sarpanches. He said that powers from 14 departments have already been transferred to panchayats.
Omar Abdullah said that the Block Council Elections of Panchayats could not be held despite issuance of date sheet because the issues of reservation for women, schedule caste and schedule tribe arouse and various sections of opinion raised this point vehemently. “We are working to make legislation in this regard”, he said adding that Urban Local Body elections were delayed due to heavy tourist turn over and these are also on slate.
Listing security, unemployment, corruption and electric supply four important challenges before the government, Omar Abdullah said that his government has concentrated attention on all these issues and each one is being fully attended.
The Chief Minister said that in order to address unemployment problem in a comprehensive manner, his government implemented SKEWPY, gave new Employment Policy, provided allowance to unemployed youth under VSA scheme and put in place many initiatives pertaining to enhancing employability and upgrading skills of youth to get easily absorbed in open job market. He said that 49000 unemployed youth are getting service allowance, about 170 counselling sessions have been organized to impart necessary training to 4518 employees and 662 income units have been established this year by the educated youth under SKEWPY as against 490 last year. He said youth are also being helped under centrally sponsored schemes of UDAAN and HIMAYAT adding that MSME Ministry has also initiated Skill Upgradation Programme for J&K youth at two places and during the training each trainee will get Rs. 2500 monthly stipend.
On Power, Omar Abdullah said that various hydro-electric projects have been launched in the State to address power deficit. He said similar attention has been given to upgrade transmission and distribution network. He said that the new projects launched would be having inbuilt mechanism for rehabilitation of affected households and skill development training besides job opportunities for the youth. He said State has to bear Rs. 2000 crore annual losses on supply of electricity adding that this scenario requires to be changed and people have to cooperate with him in this regard.
The Chief Minister announced Amnesty Scheme for domestic power consumers and said that an Invest Weaver Scheme will be available to the consumers to take benefit and get relieved from the burden of paying interest on outstanding electric bills.
On return of Kashmir Migrants, Omar Abdullah said that his government would take all measures to restore the sense of security in them so that they would voluntarily return to their native place. Describing them inseparable part of Kashmir, he said that due to lack of safety and sense of security, the Kashmir Migrants left their homes and restoration of this sense would motivate them to return back. However, he suggested that they should take a step forward in this direction and government would move ten steps towards them.
The Chief Minister also referred to the problems of PAK, PoK, 1965 and 1971 Jammu Refugees and said that the nature of issues confronting these categories of refugees are different requiring different methodology to address them. He said that government is alive to their problems and are being tackled separately and in the relevant legal framework.