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Kashmir will be developed in a way that people will forget visiting Switzerland: PM Modi

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Says Article 370 was biggest hurdle in J&K’s development

Jammu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Jammu and Kashmir Lt Governor Manoj Sinha and Union Minister Jitendra Singh greets the gathering during the foundation stone laying and inauguration ceremony of multiple developmental projects, in Jammu, Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2024. (PTI Photo)(PTI02_20_2024_000095B)

Jammu: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday said the revocation of Article 370 was pivotal in fostering the comprehensive development of Jammu and Kashmir, asserting his government was committed to transforming the Valley into a tourist destination that could rival Switzerland.

Addressing a large gathering at the Maulana Azad Stadium here, where he launched projects worth over Rs 32,000 crore for Jammu and Kashmir and Rs 13,500 crore for other parts of the nation, Modi highlighted the surge in investments from Gulf countries following a G20 event held in the region last year, which brought global attention to its scenic beauty.

Modi heralded a new era for the region and declared that Jammu and Kashmir is breaking free from dynastic rule, with his government now directly engaging with the populace.

During his over 30-minute speech, Modi reminisced about the tumultuous past of J&K marred by violence and separatism and commended the current shift towards a harmonious and prospering Jammu and Kashmir, attributing it to balanced development initiatives.

“We have seen the days when only disappointing news used to come from J&K. Bomb, guns, kidnapping and separatism had become its misfortune. Today, we are seeing a new J&K with balanced and holistic development,” Modi said in his speech which he began in Dogri language.

Despite rain, thousands of locals attended the rally. It was Modi’s second visit to the Jammu region after the abrogation of Article 370 in August 2019. Earlier he had addressed a public rally in Samba district in April 2022.

Expressing his vision for a flourishing Jammu and Kashmir, Modi vowed to construct infrastructure to rival international destinations like Switzerland.

“We have pledged a developed J&K and I have full faith that we will make Jammu and Kashmir more developed and fulfill all your dreams within the next few years…We will create such infrastructure in Kashmir that people will forget going to Switzerland,” he said.

The prime minister lauded the newfound spirit of the youth in the region, highlighting the transition from desolation to vibrancy in everyday life and also shared his optimism regarding investments from Gulf countries, underscoring the positive reception towards the erstwhile state.

Reflecting on the global interest ignited by the G20 event in Srinagar, Modi expressed satisfaction over the surge in tourism and devotees visiting the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine.

“The beauty of Kashmir, traditions and culture which got highlighted during the G20 event (in Srinagar last year) had left an impression on the people and everyone wants to visit the place,” Modi said expressing satisfaction over the footfall of a record number of over two crore tourists and highest number of devotees to Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine in a decade.

He said there is a lot of enthusiasm in the whole world today about a developing Jammu and Kashmir, emphasising the monumental impact of scrapping Article 370 in ushering in an era of inclusive growth and social justice.

Describing Article 370, which granted special status to Jammu and Kashmir, as the “biggest hurdle” in the development of the erstwhile state, he said the constitutional provision was the main impediment in bringing all-round development in Jammu and Kashmir and the BJP government has dismantled this wall.

Modi urged the nation to grant his party 370 seats in the upcoming Parliamentary elections, marking the significance of the Article 370 annulment.

Stating that J&K was a victim of “dynastic rule” with those at the helm of affairs only working for their self-interest, the prime minister said he is happy that the UT is getting freed of this.

“The dynastic rulers were only concerned about their own interests. They had no concern for the future of the youth and your families as they were only concerned about their own families. The government whose priority is the welfare of just one family cannot think of the welfare of the common people,” Modi said in an apparent reference to Congress, National Conference and Peoples Democratic Party who ruled the erstwhile state in the past seven decades.

Taking on the Congress party, he said this party only believed in lip service to the armed forces and it was his government which fulfilled promises like ‘One Rank One Pension’, benefiting soldiers. He rounded off his address by affirming that a prosperous India is synonymous with a thriving Jammu and Kashmir.

Earlier, the PM engaged with the newly recruited government employees and beneficiaries of various schemes during which he underscored the government’s commitment to a developed and inclusive future for Jammu and Kashmir.

During such an interaction with a woman from a remote area of Jammu region, the prime minister sought the support of the country’s women and in making one crore women in India as “lakhpati didis”.

The development projects which Modi launched or laid the foundation stones for projects related to education, railways, aviation and road sectors in Jammu and Kashmir.

Modi dedicated various rail projects which included a new rail line between Banihal-Khari-Sumber-Sangaldan (48 km) and flagged off the first electric train in the valley and a train service between the Sangaldan in Jammu division and Baramulla stations.

PM launches Rs 32,000-crore worth development projects in J&K

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched multiple development projects, including for education, railway, aviation and road sectors, in Jammu and Kashmir worth over Rs 32,000 crore.

From Jammu, the prime minister also launched or laid the foundation stone of projects worth Rs 13,500 crore across the country.

These projects include Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) and central universities.

Modi distributed appointment letters to about 1,500 newly recruited government employees of Jammu and Kashmir and also interacted with the beneficiaries of various schemes as part of the ‘Viksit Bharat, Viksit Jammu’ programme.

Among the railway projects that Modi inaugurated are the railway line between Banihal-Khari-Sumber-Sangaldan (48 km) and the newly electrified Baramulla-Srinagar-Banihal-Sangaldan section (185.66 km).

He flagged off the first electric train in the Valley and the train service between Sangaldan and Baramulla stations.

The commissioning of the Banihal-Khari-Sumber-Sangaldan section is significant as it features the usage of ballast-less track (BLT) all along the route providing a better ride experience to passengers.

India’s longest transportation tunnel T-50 (12.77 km) lies in the portion between Khari and Sumber.

The railway projects are expected to improve connectivity, ensure environmental sustainability and boost the overall economic development of the region. The prime minister also inaugurated and laid the foundation stone of several projects worth about Rs 13,500 crore for other parts of the country.

The projects include permanent campuses for IIT Bhilai, IIT Tirupati, IIT Jammu, IIITDM Kancheepuram, Indian Institute of Skills (IIS), a pioneer skills training institute on advanced technologies located at Kanpur, and campuses of Central Sanskrit University at Devprayag (Uttarakhand) and Agartala (Tripura).

He also inaugurated three new IIMs in the country — IIM Jammu, IIM Bodh Gaya and IIM Visakhapatnam — besides 20 new buildings for Kendriya Vidyalayas (KVs) and 13 for new Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas (JNVs) buildings across the country.

As part of his government’s efforts to provide comprehensive, quality and holistic tertiary-care health services to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, the prime minister also inaugurated the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Vijaypur (Samba), Jammu, officials said.

The institute, whose foundation stone was laid by him in February 2019, has been established under the central government’s ‘Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana’.

Set up at a cost of over Rs 1,660 crore and in an area spanning over 227 acres, the hospital is equipped with 720 beds, a medical college with 125 seats, a nursing college with 60 seats, an AYUSH block with 30 beds, residential accommodation for faculty and staff, hostel accommodation for UG and PG students and a shopping complex among other facilities.

Among other projects, Modi laid the foundation stone for a new terminal building at the Jammu airport.

Spread over 40,000 sqm, the new terminal building will be equipped with modern facilities catering to about 2,000 passengers during peak hours, and will be environment friendly.

Modi laid the foundation stone of important road projects including two stretches (44.22 km) of the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra expressway connecting Jammu to Katra and phase-two for the four-laning of the Srinagar Ring road.

He laid the foundation stone for a project to develop the CUF (Common User Facility) petroleum depot at Jammu as well.

Day not far when Kashmir will get connected with Kanyakumari by rail: PM Modi

The day is not far when Kashmir will be connected with Kanyakumari by rail, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Tuesday as he commissioned a newly completed 48.1-km stretch of the Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla Rail Link (USBRL) project.

The 272-km USBRL is being commissioned in phases — the 118-km Qazigund-Baramulla section was done in October 2009, the 18-km Banihal-Qazigund section in June 2013 and the 25-km Udhampur-Katra section in July 2014.

Development works are happening simultaneously, unlike in the past when work was done in the rest of India but its benefits were either not available to the people of Jammu and Kashmir or were made available very late, the prime minister said here while addressing a public rally.

“Today new airports are being built across the country. Jammu and Kashmir is also not behind. Today the expansion work of the Jammu airport has started. The dream of connecting Kashmir to Kanyakumari by rail has also moved forward today with the commissioning of the (48.1-km) section between Baramulla and Sangaldan,” he said.

Officials said the work on the Katra-Sangaldan section is likely to be completed by May or June.

Prime Minister Modi said that “the day is not far when people will be able to travel across the country by taking a train from Kashmir”.

“Today such a big campaign for electrification of the railways is going on in the entire country, and this region has got a big benefit from it,” said Modi, who also flagged off the first electric train in Kashmir from Baramulla to Sangaldan.

This is going to help a lot in keeping pollution down, he highlighted.

He said when a modern train service in the form of ‘Vande Bharat’ was started in the country, one of its initial routes was in Jammu and Kashmir. “We made it easier to reach the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine (at Katra in Jammu) and I am happy that two Vande Bharat trains are presently running on this route,” Modi said.

The prime minister, who also inaugurated many roads and laid the foundation for new ones, said road-connectivity across Jammu and Kashmir, including in villages, cities and national highways, has been given due priority.

“The second phase of the Srinagar Ring Road on completion will make it easier for people to visit the Manasbal Lake and the Kheerbhawani temple, while the completed works on the Srinagar-Baramulla-Uri highway will benefit farmers and the tourism sector,” he said.

He said the expansion of the Delhi-Amritsar-Katra Expressway will further improve connectivity and the travel between Jammu and Delhi will become easies.

PM seeks support of women to make 1 crore ‘lakhpati didis’

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday sought the support of the country’s women folk and said he wants to make one crore women in India “lakhpati didis”.

The prime minister lauded the beneficiaries of the Centre’s major schemes in Jammu and Kashmir for setting an example for the rest of the country. He interacted with the beneficiaries during his visit to Jammu to ascertain how the schemes have transformed the lives of the people in the Union Territory.

During a public rally, the PM encouraged a self-help group (SHG) head Kirti of Basohli area of Kathua district to leverage the loan scheme under the livelihood scheme and contribute to the success of rural women.

Kirti, whose SHG had purchased three cows and repaid the loan, has now a big cowshed due to the efforts of several women.

She said, “The lives of women are changing and they are becoming the engines of change in rural India. The credit of the changes goes to such schemes gifted to us by the prime minister”.

Lauding Kirti for her contribution, the PM sought support from the country’s women folk and said he wants to make one crore women in India “lakhpati didis”.

She replied saying she will fully support Modi’s mission of “lakhpati didis”.

From farmers to SHG members, Modi interacted with five beneficiaries – including three from Jammu and two from Kashmir – to learn about the impact of schemes such as Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G), PM Kisan, Jal Jeevan Mission, National Rural Livelihood Mission, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana (PMJAY), Ayushman Bharat, PM Ujjwala and Pradhan Mantri Kisan Urja Suraksha evam Utthaan Mahabhiyan (PM-KUSUM) on their lives.

The prime minister acknowledged the exemplary role played by Shaheen Begum, a post-graduate entrepreneur from north Kashmir’s Bandipora area.

Shaheen, a beneficiary of the Deendayal Antyodaya scheme, has transformed the lives of rural women in Kashmir by setting up SHGs and various units, including a poultry farm.

She credited the prime minister for her success, stating, “Your schemes have changed our lives. I never dreamt that such a change would take place. It was a difficult life for us but you changed it. We thank you, Sir.”

PM Modi praised Shaheen for her entrepreneurship skills and also commended her parents for educating her.

He said, “I bow before your parents for educating you. You are becoming a successful entrepreneur. That shows everything is possible under the Modi rule,” he said.

Continuing the engagement, he greeted Lal Mohammad, a Gujjar from Poonch district, who has successfully constructed a house under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Gramin (PMAY-G).

Mohammad recited a poem in praise of Modi and India, expressing his support to them.

The prime minister extended greetings to Riyaz Ahmed Kohli from Pulwama and Veena Parihar from Atholi (Paddar) in Kishtwar district, the first time beneficiaries of the Jal Jeevan Mission and PM Ujjwala schemes which gave them piped water supply and gas connection respectively, in the remotest areas of J&K.

Kohli shared his story how his remote village got connected through piped water under Jal Jeevan Mission to provide water supply to their village.

“We have got water connections for the first time since Independence. We got benefited from the forest rights law after the abrogation of Article 370. We thank you, Sir. I never thought about talking to the PM like this. We are fortunate to talk to you,” he said.

PM inaugurates AIIMS Jammu

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday inaugurated the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here, saying the people of Jammu will no longer have to leave for Delhi to avail specialised medical treatment.

The hospital, sprawling across 226.84 acres along National Highway 44 in Vijaypur area of Samba district, was established under Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY) to address regional healthcare imbalances, encourage evidence-based research and elevate medical education standards.

Addressing a public rally after launching and laying the foundation stone of projects worth over Rs 32,000 crore, the prime minister said the number of medical colleges in J&K has increased from four to 12 in the last 10 years.

“Similarly, in the same time period, MBBS seats in J&K have more than doubled from 500 to 1300,” he said, highlighting that “there were no PG medical seats in J&K before 2014 and today there are 650 PG medical seats in the Union Territory”.

He said 35 new nursing and paramedic colleges are also coming up in the region which will lead to a considerable increase in nursing seats as well.

On inaugurating AIIMS Jammu, the prime minister said the Union government has added 15 new AIIMS in the last 10 years, including two in J&K alone.

“After the commissioning of AIIMS Jammu, people of Jammu will no longer have to leave for Delhi to avail specialised medical treatment, which will help them save valuable time and resources,” he said.

The prime minister highlighted the rapid speed of transformation of infrastructure in all the sectors of the country.

He reiterated his vision of India to become Viksit Bharat by 2047 and appealed to the people to work towards that vision.

He said a Viksit Jammu & Kashmir is a prerequisite to Viksit Bharat and the various developmental and upliftment projects of the central government in J&K are aimed at fulfilling that vision into reality.

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha thanked the Union government for fulfilling many long-cherished aspirations of the people of J&K, be it in bringing development and benefits of central schemes to the marginalised sections or in provisioning two AIIMS to the region.

“The last five years have witnessed a transformation in J&K especially in improving the health, education, security and infrastructure landscape of the region which is evident in the decline of terrorism by 75 percent and growth of investment and new opportunities,” he said.

Sinha also pointed out that “under the leadership of Modi, J&K has become the only region in India having AIIMS, IIT, IIM and other institutions of eminence”.

Union Minister Jitendra Singh highlighted the importance that the government has given towards enhancing infrastructure development in the country and especially in J&K.

He said many of these development projects were very ambitious from the start and credited the prime minister for pro-actively pursuing them to ensure that development reaches the last mile.

The AIIMS Jammu is set to offer comprehensive medical services, with an expected daily footfall of 2000-3000 patients in the outpatient department. The Phase-1 consists of establishing 750 beds, including 193 ICU beds catering to trauma care, general care and super-specialties, an official spokesman said.

He said AIIMS Jammu plans to build approximately 50 departments, encompassing both general and specialised care.

Advanced facilities like Nuclear Medicine, 20 Modular OTs, MRI and CT Scan operating round-the-clock will ensure that humane and continuous care is readily available, he said.

Additionally, the spokesman said AIIMS Jammu’s dedicated two-storey ‘Aayush Block’ with 30 beds alongside other facilities and partnerships, reflects a holistic healthcare approach merging traditional and modern medicine to enhance regional health outcomes.

AIIMS Jammu will have an annual intake of 100 students for its MBBS programme and 60 students for nursing. It will also introduce post-graduate programmes in Medical, Dental (MD/MS/MDS), Nursing, Super Specialisation programmes (DM/MCh), Doctorate (PhD) degrees, and more in the future.

With 54 percent of its faculty and nearly 80 percent nursing officers being women, AIIMS Jammu prioritises women empowerment through equal opportunities, supportive work environments and gender-sensitive policies, the spokesman said.

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