Development projects in J&K get wings post August 5, 2019
New Delhi, April 9 (IANS) In November 2015, Narendra Modi in his second public meeting in Kashmir after becoming the Prime Minister had announced Rs 80,000 crore development package for J&K's development.
The then J&K Chief Minister, late Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who shared stage with Prime Minister Modi and was his alliance partner at that point of time, had tried his best to push Modi to soften his stand towards Pakistan and Kashmiri separatists but the Prime Minister had snubbed him by saying, "I don't need advice or analysis from anyone in this world on Kashmir. The three mantras of Atal ji... and these will be helpful in moving forward. 'Kashmiriyat ke bina Hindustan adhura hai'. (Without Kashmiriyat, India is incomplete). Sufi tradition has emerged from this land and this tradition has taught us oneness and strength of unity."
Even four years before, when there was no debate over scrapping Article 370 -- due to which J&K enjoyed special privileges -- PM Modi had made it clear that it was his "heartfelt desire" that the Rs 80,000 crore package announced by him should help in turning the fate of J&K people. He had stated that the money should be used for converting Jammu and Kashmir in a modern, prosperous and progressive place.
PM Modi had assured the people of J&K that the package announced by him was just a beginning and it was not a full stop. "Delhi's treasury is for you. Not only our treasury, but our heart also beats for you," PM Modi had told the gathering.
In 4-years only 37 per cent of funds were utilized.
Till 2020 the J&K Government could only spend 37 per cent of Rs 80,000 crore package that was announced by the Prime Minister. When PM had made the announcement at that time it was decided by the Central Government that the sanctioned amount would be spent in five years and the developmental works under the package had to be completed by the ending 2020.
According to the official figures, of the Rs 80,068 crore package, Rs 30,049 were released till March 31, 2019 for the erstwhile J&K state. Of the 63 projects, only 18 were completed in five years. In 2020, the parliamentary panel had expressed dismay over the slow pace of work under the package.
Change after August 5, 2019
Soon after the Government of India (GoI) announced its decision to revoke J&K's special status and divided it into two union territories on August 5, 2019, many things changed in Jammu and Kashmir. The biggest change the newly carved out union territory witnessed was the government shifting its focus on development projects and expediting the pace of the works.Nearly one year after the abrogation of Article 370, in July 2020, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh inaugurated six bridges in border areas of J&K.
The work on Shahpur-Kandi, electricity, and irrigation project that couldn't commence for five decades has begun. The Ujh project has been fast-tracked. And the metro rail is on its way to Srinagar and Jammu. Union Power Minister R.K. Singh and then Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik had jointly inaugurated 15 power projects and laid the foundation stone for 20 others worth Rs 10,000 crore in September 2019.
The world's highest railway bridge over the river Chenab that is expected to connect Kashmir with the rest of India by train for the first time is likely to be completed by 2022.
Municipal Committees were empowered to approve projects up to Rs 5 crore and transparent e-tendering was also made mandatory. In 2021, Kashmir witnessed a heavy snowfall. It was for the first time in the past seven decades that the Valley didn't plunge into darkness due to weather vagaries and the Kashmir Power Development Corporation Limited (KPDCL) ensured that history is not repeated in the harsh winter season.
After the scrapping of Article 370 the government announced that it would refurbish 11 airports -- including two along the India-China border and military airports along India-Pakistan border like Poonch, Rajouri, Gurez would also be expanded and opened up for civilian use.For developing the Information and Technology sector in J&K many sops have been framed like providing "subsidy on rent" to the outside investors. The policy document of the government envisages two IT parks -- one each in Srinagar and Jammu -- spread over 5 lakh square feet.
The J&K administration has also released a real estate policy which said that "land banks" created by the government will be disbursed to "private developers" through a transparent bidding process.
According to Union Minister of State for HRD, Communications, and Electronics & Information Technology Sanjay Dhotre, the Government of India after August 5, 2019 has expedited the process of opening of IIT, IIM and AIIMs and allowing development of highways, power generation and irrigation projects.
The projects that were lying dormant for the last several decades were also being revived in a speedy manner. Dhotre had stated that various developmental schemes include, acceleration of the projects being executed under the Prime Minister Development Package (PMDP); to execute effective implementation of various schemes targeting the individual beneficiaries; to restart the long-pending projects by removing the obstacles that have been holding such projects; and, to ensure effective administration with transparency.
J&K opens up for outsiders
After August 5, 2019, the government has left no stone unturned to woo the outside investors into Jammu and Kashmir as the region is now free of the restrictions imposed by the special status.
The creation of land banks, the new industrial policy under which the outsiders can get the land on lease for 90-years have been among the major steps that were taken during the past one and a half years.
According to the official figures, more than 40 companies have expressed their interest to invest in J&K after the abrogation of Article 370. Till December 2020 the government had accepted proposals of 33 companies. The current figure of the proposal of investments stands at Rs 15000 crore. Companies from various fields like Renewal Energy, Hospitality, Defence, Tourism, Skill, Education, IT & Technology and infrastructure have come forward to set up their units in J&K.