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‘Historic budget’ aims to rebuild economy, create jobs and secure future of people of J&K: LG

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Says J&K admin brought transparency and put end to corruption

Jammu: Asserting that his administration has brought transparency in the system and put an end to corruption, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Thursday said his priority is to speed up the development work in the union territory.

Speaking at a press conference to highlight the significance of Budget-2021-22 for Jammu and Kashmir, Sinha termed the Rs 1,08,621 cr Budget approved by the Central government as “historic”.

“This is a budget to rebuild the economy, create jobs and secure the future of the people of Jammu and Kashmir,” he said.

The LG observed that the “quantum jump” in the allocation of Budget in all sectors itself speaks about the strong resolve of the Prime Minister towards the development of J&K.

“J&K has been getting a larger per capita budget than other states even in the past. It will be ensured that the work is being done on ground and the money is utilized for the welfare of the people without discrimination, besides tapping the potential of the sectors which are less explored,” he said, adding that the enhanced budget will go a long way in making J&K self-sufficient, thus contributing towards Prime Minister’s goal of “AtmnaNirbhar Bharat”.

Giving a comparative analysis of the Budget for the year 2021-22 vis-a-vis the previous budgets, the LG made a sector-wise comparison.

For Jal Shakti (PHE) department, the LG remarked that with the jump of Rs 5102 cr taking the total to Rs 6346 cr, the government is eyeing to achieve the target under Prime Minister’s ambitious ‘Har Ghar Nal se Jal’ programme within the timeframe.

“100 percent saturation under ‘Har Ghar Nal se Jal’ in 13 districts of the UT will be completed this year,” he announced, adding that ‘Village Action Plan’ and 4048 ‘Paani Samitis’ have already been established.

He informed that the provision of Rs 2008 cr has been kept for Agriculture and Horticulture sectors, which is Rs 695 cr more than the previous allocation. For Rural Development, Rs 4817 cr is allocated, which is Rs 342 cr more. Tourism sector witnessed a hike of Rs 509 cr, taking the budget allocation to Rs 786 cr, he added.

Speaking on the Health & Medical Education sector, the LG observed that this sector witnessed major transformation in the last two years. For the year 2021-22, the sector has an allocation of Rs 1456 cr, around Rs 190 cr more than the previous one.

“Rs 120 cr increase for the Power sector takes its total allocation to Rs 2728 cr. However, approved projects worth Rs 54,000 crore to generate 3500 Megawatt in three to four years to make J&K power surplus is a separate entity,” the LG.

He said the allocation of Rs 2710 cr for Housing & Urban Development sector — a steep hike of Rs 1432 cr from the previous budget – will give a determined push for the development of the Jammu and Srinagar into model cities, besides the development of other municipalities as well.

Road & Bridges sector gets Rs 4089 crore, an increase of Rs 467 crore; Social Security sector receives Rs 174 crore, which is a hike of Rs 59 crore; Education sector has been allocated Rs 1873 crore, an increase of Rs 523 crore, he informed.

Similarly, the total allocation of Rs 648 cr for Industries and Commerce sector, which is Rs 291 crore more than the previous, will generate more employability and bring more investment. An amount of Rs 200 cr has been kept for Youth empowerment, added the LG.

The provision of the Budget for Relief & Rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits has also increased. For the welfare of Kashmiri Pandit community, the work on 6000 jobs for them has been accelerated, the LG maintained.

After establishing grass-root democracy, with the highest-ever budget envisaged for Jammu and Kashmir, the government is focusing on grass-root development in the UT, he said.

For empowerment of District Development Councils (DDCs) and Block Development Councils (BDCs), a provision of Rs 200 crore for 20 DDCs (Rs 10 cr for each DDC) of Jammu and Kashmir, besides Rs 25 lakhs has been kept for each BDC. Further, Rs 30 crore has been earmarked for establishment of DDC/BDC offices. An  amount of Rs 1313 crore has been allocated for Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRIs)/Urban Local Bodies (ULBs), he added.

Maintaining transparency in the working of the administration is the focus area of the government, Sinha said, adding that efforts are afoot to ensure effective monitoring and timely execution of works. Budget Estimation and Allocation Monitoring System (BEAMS) has made the system more transparent and has eliminated the scope of corruption, he observed.

Underscoring the targets set by the government aimed at creating more livelihood opportunities and accelerating the development process, the LG said that as many as 25,000 youth of the UT have been provided with financial support under various schemes to start their own businesses “and this year, we aim to double the opportunities for the youth”.

Government is also aiming to strengthen the road network across the UT. The targets of completion of 4500 km length of road under PMGSY, providing road connectivity to 150 unconnected villages, blacktopping of 8000 km road length, developing pot-hole free roads connecting District Headquarters, Tehsils, & Blocks in Jammu & Srinagar are being set for this year, besides dedicated focus will be laid on prominent tourist places, the LG maintained.

On the Power generation, distribution and transmission, he said that the government is making untiring efforts to provide 24×7 quality electricity to the people of J&K in the coming years, besides reaching out to the unconnected habitations to provide electricity through the grid.

On growth and promotion of the sports sector, the LG announced that a comprehensive mechanism is being laid down for engaging 15 lakhs boys and girls in different sports activities in adherence to all the COVID-related SoPs.

Flanked by Chief Secretary B V R Subrahmanyam, Financial Commissioner Arun Kumar Mehta and Principal Secretary Information department Rohit Kansal, the LG thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government for Rs 1,08,621 crore Budget for Jammu and Kashmir, and answered the questions of media-persons.

“The money has come (from the centre) in the past also, but the question is had the required development work taken place. We have brought transparency in the system and put an end to the corruption so that the work is actually done on the ground,” Sinha told reporters.

“This budget, which was passed in the both the houses of Parliament, is more than the previous budget and is meant for 1.30 crore people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Bihar, with a population of 12 crore, has the annual budget of over 2 lakh core and Uttar Pradesh, with over 20 crore population, has got 5 lakh core budget,” Sinha said, emphasising that the budget is meant to rebuild economy, create jobs and secure the union territory for the future based on the prime minister’s vision.

Asked whether his government plans to set up an inquiry commission to look where the money pumped by the Centre had gone in the past, the LG said he had left it to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.

“My priority is how the development work is speeded up. There is a law prevalent in the country and there are also agencies working. They should be allowed to do their jobs and there is no need to intervene in their working,” Sinha said.

Asked about media reports about the investigations against PDP youth leader Waheed-ur-Rehman Parra, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) last year, the LG said he had full faith in the government agencies and is sure that they will do their work and take their investigation to the logical conclusion.

“I am hopeful that everything will be alright and maybe that will happen what you want,” he said.

About the impact of better ties between India and Pakistan on Jammu and Kashmir, Sinha refused a direct answer but said “peace is the key to development everywhere”.

“There is an External Affairs Ministry in the country and I think we should leave this question to it,” he said.

Financial Commissioner Mehta said the administration had brought “such a type of transparency in the system which was never there in the past”.

“There will be no payment till geo-tagging of the completed work and the payment is directly transferred into the bank account of the contractor,” he said, assuring that the money allocated to Jammu and Kashmir in the budget would be utilised on the ground.

“We have completed 8,000 projects in 2018-19, 10,500 projects this year and planning to complete 16,000 projects in the coming financial year,” Sinha added.

Hinting that a proper rehabilitation plan for migrant Kashmiri Pandits maybe in the pipeline, Sinha said a lot has been thought about the community and soon “something is going to happen which you have not even imagined”.

“We are also talking about 6,000 jobs and an equal number of residential accommodation for migrant Kashmiri Pandits in the valley. This is a minute part of rehabilitation of the community in the valley,” Sinha said.

Responding to a question about linking prime minister’s employment package with the overall rehabilitation of Pandits in the Valley, he said rehabilitation is a different thing altogether.

“These 6,000 jobs for the community were notified earlier but the (recruitment) process got delayed due to various reasons. This is a minute part of the rehabilitation of the community. Our first priority was to complete the process as soon as possible and it has now reached the final stage,” he said.

Sinha said it is not the final package for the community and the government is doing more for them in the near future. “A lot has been thought about the rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits which I do not want to make public today. Shortly, you will get information that something is going to happen which you have not even imagined,” he said.

Asked about a clause in the contract of Pandit employees that they have to leave their residential quarters on retirement, he said, “I have taken note of it and this will be looked into.”

On the welfare measures proposed for border residents who have suffered immensely due to cross-border shelling over the years, the LG said 8,000 underground bunkers have been constructed so far for their safety, while 1,200 more such structures are being built during the next financial year.

“There is a provision in the budget for them as well. And if there is a need, more will be done for them,” he said.

Fortunately, he said, the shelling by Pakistan has stopped now. (With PTI inputs)

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