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Don’t misread calm as peace, NC cautions GoI

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Road to development in J&K runs through peace: Masoodi

New Delhi: The National Conference Member of Parliament Justice (Retd.) Hasnain Masoodi on Thursday said that the road to development in Jammu and Kashmir runs through peace, saying the idea of development is farfetched in uncertainty and deep despondency.

While speaking on the Budget 2021-22 in the Lok Sabha, Masoodi, according to a party press release said the Government of India’s policy towards Jammu and Kashmir must encapsulate all dimensions with peace building efforts at the heart of it.

He said unless a “positive environment” isn’t actualized by addressing the political aspirations of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, achieving anticipated development goals are unlikely.

“The government has misread eerie calm in Jammu and Kashmir as peace, the silence after the abrogation of Articles 370, 35-A is no indicator of peace. The ruling dispensation at New Delhi is under false impression that they have silenced Kashmir by the harshest clampdown post August 5th (2019) measures but that tantamount to living in denial,” Masoodi said.

He said since the state was “unilaterally dismembered and sheared of its unique status, there has been spur in the violence related incidents. There is no thaw on the armed encounters in which nearly 400 people including 200 security forces officers have lost their lives. The prevalence of suicidal deaths of security forces has also seen a manifold increase.  There is no semblance of peace and stability in Jammu and Kashmir.”

He said for any development activity to take place, peace is the first universal prerequisite. “Therefore, it is expected that the party that helms the central government works towards achieving peace in its real sense by addressing the political aspirations of the people.”

On the Budget 2021-22, Masoodi said the budget is mute on various issues concerning the people. He said the country has just come out of a pandemic situation and was still lurking towards achieving pre-COVID-19 point but in wake of the dearth of substantial fiscal support from the GoI the projected objective seems farfetched.

He pointed towards various disturbing trends in the annual budget saying the increase in the expenditure using capital revenue was one of them. “Here the government is not using the capital revenue to create new assets; the capital revenue is being used to pay for interest payments. Fiscal deficit being projected at 6.81 percent is itself is very disappointing,” he added.

Alluding to the introduction of agricultural cess in the budget, Masoodi stated that the measure disempowered the federal units of the country by hitting state revenues.

“Following the introduction of the cess, states are likely to lose some revenue. Currently, the center shares 41 percent of its total tax revenue with states. But surcharges and cesses are not included in this pool. It is very unlikely that the center will share the revenue earned from such agriculture cess with the states,” he said.

He criticized the ruling BJP on passing off all legislations as money bills and stated that evading discussions in Rajya Sabha has become a norm now and that it was against the spirit of country’s federalism since the upper house of the Parliament represents the states.

“Ideally the government is supposed to place crucial bills in Rajya Sabha to be acquainted with the majority sentiment of the members there representing states. It seems to have become a norm to deal with the incontinent second chamber of the parliament. By circumventing upper house the ruling BJP is avoiding reasoned debate displaying scant regard for the country’s bicameral system of parliament,” he said.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the budgetary allocation for Jammu and Kashmir, Masoodi said that the budget had nothing for bumping up infrastructure in Jammu and Kashmir.

He rued that the annual financial statement 2021-22 was also bereft of any substantial package for the horticulture, tourism and handicrafts sectors of Jammu and Kashmir.

“It was expected that the center will come to the rescue of trouble-torn horticulture, and tourism industry, but the yearly allocations for Jammu and Kashmir have not seen any increase since last budget.  The small players associated with MSME, Handicraft and Handloom has been left high and dry. There is no substantial investment for creating more job avenues. The much touted job extravaganza is yet to see the light of the day.

“Let alone providing employment to unemployed youth whose numbers are soaring, the government has lefty the fate of nearly 80,000 contractual, need-based and daily-wage employees in lurch.  They have being waiting their regularization for years.

“The energy sector has also been left unattended in the yearly budgetary allocations despite the increasing gap in the demand and supply of electricity in the region. The road and the aviation sector of Jammu and Kashmir seems to have fallen from the priority list of the government,” Masoodi said.

No money has been earmarked for the up gradation of Avantipura airport, completion of Zojilla Tunnel, completion of Srinagar Jammu highway, development of Mughal road as alternative to Jammu-Srinagar national highway, he pointed out.

“The 784 km gas pipeline which has been allocated for Jammu and Kashmir is nothing new, it was given by PNGB to GSPL in 2011 for execution, since then there has been no headway on it. In nutshell, the annual budgetary allocation for Jammu and Kashmir is directionless.  It has nothing to speed up the economic resurgence of J&K post-Covid-19 induced clampdown and clampdown of 2019,” he said.

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