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PM Announces Rs 80,000-cr Plan for J&K

... Business Standard:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced an economic package of Rs 80,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir. In his speech at a public rally in Srinagar, Modi said India was incomplete without Kashmiriyat.

In a public meeting that evoked memories of former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s famous rally in Srinagar in 2004, Modi said he would follow Vajpayee’s three mantras for the development of Kashmir — “Kashmiriyat, jamhooriyat aur insaniyat” (social consciousness and cultural values of the Kashmiri people, democracy and humanity).

“I don’t need advice or analysis from anyone in this world on Kashmir. The three mantras of Atalji will be helpful in moving forward,” Modi said.

The PM added that the package was not a full stop but it was a beginning. “Dilli ka khazana aap ke liye hai, Dilli ka khazana hee nahi, dil bhi aap ke liye hazir hai (not only Delhi’s treasury but our hearts also beat for you),” he said, flanked by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and Peoples Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti.

The PM also lauded the people of Jammu and Kashmir for their faith in democracy. “I salute you,” Modi said, adding that Kashmiriyat was the pride and glory of India. Besides, he said that the Sufi tradition had emerged from Kashmir and taught us oneness and strength of unity.

He also stressed the need for boosting tourism in Kashmir and proposed that Srinagar should resume hosting international cricket matches.

In his second public rally in Kashmir after becoming prime minister, Modi laid the foundation stone for four-laning of the Udhampur-Ramban and Ramban-Banihal stretches of Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which is expected to cost Rs 4,306 crore.

He also inaugurated the 450-megawatt phase-II Baglihar power project near Jammu. At the inauguration, the PM said the package of Rs 80,000 crore includes a plan for “honourable” rehabilitation of the West Pakistan refugees and Kashmiri pandits, and identified it as the most important task for his government. Although nearly 55,000 families came from West Pakistan in 1947, they haven’t been recognised as residents of the state, which hampers their ability to buy land and apply for government jobs. Moreover, 59,000 Kashmiri pandit families left the Valley in 1990 owing to militancy.

The PM also announced that four new India Reserve Battalions will be raised in the state, which will create jobs for 4,000 youths.

Later, Jammu and Kashmir Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu said the Rs 80,000 crore on Saturday was over and above the plan and non-plan assistance to the state as well as in addition to the Rs 35,000 crore to be spent on the construction of highways. He added that the package had five components: humanitarian relief, disaster management, social infrastructure, economic infrastructure and developmental spending.

Drabu also said the Rs 60,000 crore in the package was earmarked for new infrastructure projects in the state sector, around Rs 7,000 crore for the existing projects, and Rs 8,000 crore for humanitarian relief, including the rehabilitation of the flood-affected. The package was to be spent over the next five years, Drabu said, adding that it would not only rejuvenate the flood-hit state economy but also create job opportunities.

However, former chief minister Omar Abdullah alleged that the state government had issued instructions to its employees, including police personnel and daily-rated workers, to attend the rally.