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Development process since Article 370 abrogation just the beginning of J&K’s transformation: Sinha 

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir has suffered state-sponsored terrorism for 30 years but the terror ecosystem, which thrived with support from across the border, has been isolated, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said on Tuesday.

The LG said the Union Territory is now witnessing a new era that has opened limitless possibilities of growth and peace. 

“For almost 30 years, this land of peaceful co-existence of almost all religious sects had to suffer state-sponsored terrorism by our neighbouring country,” he said at the inaugural session of the third tourism working group meeting of G20 countries at SKICC here.

“The terror ecosystem has now been isolated through developmental schemes launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Union Territory’s effective administration,” he asserted.

Sinha said Prime Minister Modi has “completely eliminated injustice, exploitation and discrimination which several sections of society faced for seven long decades owing to circumstances that evolved mostly because of orchestration from abroad.”

J&K stands among the developed regions of India on some measurable milestones, and “we are committed for people’s prosperity both economically and socially,” he said.

Now even foreign investments are coming into Jammu and Kashmir, the green shoots of better times that people are anxiously looking up to, he added.

Sinha said “the deep dive initiatives demonstrate India’s resolve that J&K should also benefit from the virtues of democracy like the rest of the states and Union territories.

“Grassroots democracy has been strengthened, new industries are coming up, rapid agricultural growth is making our villages prosperous, infrastructure development is progressing rapidly and our emphasis on technology is transforming J&K into a digital society,” he added. 

Referring to the boom in tourism, Sinha said last year a record of over 18 million tourists visited the union territory. Tourism contributed more than seven percent to J&K’s GDP last year, he added. 

The LG said more than 300 films were shot in J&K last year and after a long pause of almost four decades, J&K has revived its relationship with Bollywood and launched a film policy in 2021 to attract more investment into the film sector and to make Jammu Kashmir the most popular film shooting destination.

“I am confident that under the PM’s leadership, J&K will soon find its place in the top 50 destinations of the world and will be on the bucket list of travellers across the globe,” he said. 

He said J&K is developing the country’s largest book village on the banks of Wular Lake, in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district, and many hiking trails for tourists who love the tranquility of nature. 

“Our aim is to make the countryside and popular destinations more sustainable and preserve the beauty of fascinating heritage sites,” he said.

He said tourism cannot grow in isolation, but needs good infrastructure, sound policies and effective and responsive administration.

“No less fundamental to me is the fact that only peace and happiness of people can bring warmth in the hospitality, we Indians eternally enjoy. I would like to mention here that tourism in Jammu and Kashmir is also a reflection of the multi-religious and multi-cultural ethos of India,” he said.

Sinha said it is a matter of great pride for 13 million citizens of the Union Territory to host the G20 meeting of the tourism working group that is deliberating on global architecture for sustainable tourism.

The world can see that the entire society, especially the young generation is scripting a bright future for themselves and the nation. The speed and scale of rapid development in Jammu & Kashmir are awe-inspiring, he added.

Later addressing the media, the LG also said the development of Jammu and Kashmir since the abrogation of Article 370 in 2019 is just the beginning of its transformation.

“I can say with confidence that under the guidance of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, J&K is moving on the path of peace and prosperity…. The development of J&K post 2019 is just the beginning of the transformation of Jammu and Kashmir,” Sinha told a press conference.

Sinha said that Kashmir is no more the land of hartals, school closures and separatist activities. “Business is flourishing with each passing day. Shops remain open every day as hartals have become a part of history. Children are attending schools and colleges every day. Youth are pursuing their careers in higher studies. Separatist activities have come to an end forever,” he said. 

“As far as the terror ecosystem, the security grid has succeeded to destroy it to a large extent,” he said.

He said the primary focus of the J&K administration in the last three years has been on four P’s—Peace, Progress, Prosperity and the People-first.

He said “at present people of J&K are reaping the benefits of real democracy for the first time in the past seven decades. 

“Three-tier Panchayat Raj System has been established for the first time to take governance to the grassroots level. People are enjoying the peaceful atmosphere in J&K,” he said.

Expressing his gratitude to the prime minister for providing the historic opportunity to Jammu and Kashmir to host the G20 working group meeting on tourism, Sinha said the administration is committed to promoting sustainable tourism.

“The ongoing working group meeting is the biggest in terms of attendance. Fifty-nine delegates from 27 countries are participating in the working group meeting,” he said, adding, “We have tried to take tourism to greater heights in J&K while taking care of the environment”.

“We wanted to take our delegates to Gulmarg. But due to logistics issues, we cannot do it this time,” he said, adding that those who still want to go, will be taken to the famous ski-resort in north Kashmir.

The LG said the conduct of the third tourism working group meeting has shown that Jammu and Kashmir can host international events.

“We are capable enough to host any international event. If there are any shortcomings, we have got them in the legacy. We have picked up pace, but it will take time to fill the void of 70 years,” he said.

Asked about Pakistani Pakistan Foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto’s remarks on the meeting in Kashmir, Sinha said the neighbouring country should focus on feeding its own people.

“I think our neighbouring nation should make arrangements for feeding its people and for providing basic amenities. We have come a long way from there. G20 is a matter of pride for us,” he said. 

To a question about press freedom in the Union territory, Sinha said the press enjoys “absolute freedom” here.

“According to a report by an international organisation, seven journalists in Kashmir were arrested on terror charges and for disrupting social harmony, not for their reporting. The numbers are 10 to 20 times higher anywhere in the world,” he added. 

“There is an independent and active media in Jammu and Kashmir. More than 400 newspapers are published here,” Sinha said.

On a question about the development of tourism infrastructure, the LG said state land will be auctioned for setting up hotels and added some hotels will be disinvested.

“We will show you quality hotels after two years,” he said.

Outlining the achievements of his administration, Sinha said grassroots democracy has been strengthened in Jammu and Kashmir and the three-tier local governance has been set up.

Last year, more than 60 lakh people participated in sports activities. All 4,292 panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir have youth clubs. “Jammu and Kashmir is aspirational. We are registering a start-up every second day,” he said. 

He said the Union territory has 7.7 lakh registered entrepreneurs. Every day, one new industry is being made operational, he added. 

Six lakh women entrepreneurs here are trying to scale global heights, Sinha said.

It is due to efforts of the government over the past three years that Jammu and Kashmir has risen to the number five in the rankings for income of farmers.

He said infrastructure projects worth Rs 1.5 lakh crore were underway in the Union territory.

The speed of project implementation has increased 10-fold after 2019, he said, adding, “We are building an effective and strong rural infrastructure.”

“The world can see that the entire society, especially the young generation is scripting a bright future for themselves and the nation. The speed and scale of rapid development in Jammu Kashmir are awe-inspiring. Our speed to execute infrastructure projects has gone up almost 10 times,” the LG said. (With inputs from official press release, PTI & KNO)

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