Naya Kashmir On Cusp of Progress

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The quantum jump in the budgetary allocation is an evidence how seriously India wants to bring peace through development in otherwise restive J&K because of perpetration of terrorism from Pakistani side. The new government is continuously taking policy initiatives for the development of J&K…. writes Kaliph Anaz

Naya Kashmir is on its way to become a model Indian region with investments, infrastructure, tourism, social welfare and agriculture. The union territory is showing unprecedented growth in less than two years after being freed from Article 370. Kashmir is in fact poised on the cusp of a massive economic push with record investment proposals worth Rs 31,000 crore under consideration.

The central government has notified a new scheme worth Rs 28,400 crore which is likely to provide employment to over 4.5 lakh people. Six agreements with global investors were signed at EXPO2020 Dubai early January for investments in real estate, infrastructure, tourism, healthcare, manpower employment sectors among others.

There is considerable progress on the infrastructure front. More than 53 projects are at different stages of completion at a cost of Rs 58,477 crore in various sectors such as roads, power, health, education, tourism, agriculture, skill development. Twenty-one of these projects have been completed or substantially completed. Projects languishing at various stages numbering over 1,192 projects worth Rs 1,983.77 crore were completed, including five projects which were incomplete for more than 20 years, 15 projects for more than 15 years and 165 projects for more than 10 years. These include roads nearly 11,517 km in total length, 1858 roads and 84 bridges.

The quantum jump in the budgetary allocation is an evidence how seriously India wants to bring peace through development in otherwise restive J&K because of perpetration of terrorism from Pakistani side. The new government is continuously taking policy initiatives for the development of J&K.

HIGHLIGHTS

GOOD GOVERNANCE

All Central laws have been extended to the UT including legislations meant for protecting and promoting social, economic and political rights of women, children, under-privileged sections as well as those for ensuring transparent and accountable governance. These include the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act, 2009, The Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007, The Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2007 etc.

GRASS-ROOT DEMOCRACY

Elections were conducted for District Development Council in October -November 2020, with 51.7 per cent voter turnout. Jammu and Kashmir amended the Panchayat Act for establishment of the 3rd tier of Panchayats at district level. Earlier, elections to Block Development Councils (BDC) were held for the first time in the history of J&K in October 2019 with 98.3 percent voter turnout. For the first time, women benefited from reservation bringing them into mainstream politics.

The delimitation process in J&K is being fast-tracked. J&K Delimitation Commission in its first draft has proposed to increase six seats for the Jammu Division and one for the Kashmir Division besides reserving 16 seats for the Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribe (ST) communities.

Nearly INR 1727 crore (USD 230 million) has been devolved through Panchayat institutions for MGNREGA, Mid-Day meals and other programs. Exposure and training visits for the newly elected BDC chairpersons and sarpanchs to other states have been conducted.

44 Digital village centres have been established at Gram Panchayat to provide internet access to rural areas as well as access to e-delivery of Government services.

The third phase of a unique participatory program ‘Back to Village’ which aims at delivering equitable development was conducted in October 2020. Over 70,000 ration cards were seeded with Aadhar while 50,000 families were covered under state -sponsored Health Insurance Schemes.

Under the same Back to Village program over 15,000 loans have been sanctioned which included 4600 loans for women entrepreneurs. To improve infrastructure in villages, over 20,000 development works have been identified directly by the people.

Under the Budget Estimation Allocation Monitoring System – information regarding funds released by the Government for developmental projects can be monitored, thus ensuring transparency in allocation and disbursement of Government funds.

An integrated grievance redressal and monitoring system was launched in September, 2020, to provide an online grievance redressal system to the people of J&K. Over 85,000 grievances have been received, with over 90 % grievances being satisfactorily dealt with.

ENVIRONMENT

19,000 solar street lights to be installed across J&K.

13,000,000 (13 million) trees to be planted across J&K.

A new environment action plan to clean and restore 19 lakes and water bodies in J&K.

FLIGHT CONNECTIVITY

Already famous as a global tourism destination, Kashmir is busy transforming itself into a state of dreams and achievements for its people. A major thrust is on providing educational, health and employment opportunities for the people of the Union Territory as well as neighbouring regions. A multi-pronged plan has been put in place to transform Kashmir into a premier educational hub in north India. Besides improving existing schools and colleges, new educational institutions are rising across the territory. Premier educational institutes like IITs and IIMs are already functional. Over 22 colleges and two new cultural universities are on the anvil. At micro level, students are being offered better endowed scholarship schemes, helping those from the minorities as well as poorer sections of the society.

An international flight from Srinagar to Sharjah has been started on 23.10.2021. In addition, nine flights from Jammu and Srinagar have also been started.

INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT

Under Prime Minister’s Development Package 54 projects have been identified with the investment of INR 56,261 crores (USD 7.5 billion). 20 of these projects have been completed/substantially completed. 13 more are likely to be completed by the end of 2021-22 and remaining by 2022-23.

The completed projects include the all weather 8.45 km long hi-tech tunnel between Qazigund and Banihal built at a cost of USD 420 million. Rambagh flyover in Jammu has been completed. IIT Jammu has started functioning from its own campus while work on AIIMS Jammu has started.

The Udhampur-Sringara-Baramulla Railway Link project is under construction. The world’s highest railway bridge is being built over the Chenab river for this link.

Power generation capacity is to be doubled in the next 3 years. 3500 MW of hydro-power capacity was installed in the last seven decades, another 2500 MW is to be added by 2024-25. Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Kiru (624 MW) hydro electric projects have commenced. Additional agreements to install further 4674 MW capacity have been signed with investment of INR 34882 crores (USD 4.5 billion).

Jammu and Kashmir achieved 100 household electrification. Over 350,000 beneficiaries were covered by laying down new electric cables in remote areas and thus eliminating dependency on diesel generators. All 18.16 lakh rural households of J&K to have functional household tap connections by March 2022.

During 2020-21, 1289 road construction works were completed at a cost of INR 1638 crores (USD 220 million). Construction work of 14500 km of road has been completed so far under Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojna, which has connected about 2000 places.

INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT

J&K Industrial Development Policy 2021-30 has been notified with an outlay of INR 28,400 crores to provide incentives to all new industrial units being set up in the UT as well as any existing units undertaking substantial expansions. J&K Industrial Land Allotment Policy 2021-30 has been adopted under which land has been allocated to 15 industrial projects with a projected investment of INR 1,548 crore (200 million USD). Single window clearance rules have been notified.

Investment – Jammu and Kashmir has received investment proposals of over USD 4 billion. The J&K Government has also entered into six agreements with global investors at the Dubai Expo 2020 to bring in investments in real estate, infrastructure, tourism, healthcare and manpower development.

JOBS AND SKILL TRAINING

Quick and transparent recruitment process. Nearly 2000 people hired and 15,000 vacancies identified.

Centres for Invention, Innovation, Incubation and Training have been established in Jammu and Baramulla as a joint venture between the Government and Tata Technologies, to provide training to unemployed engineers.

Two IT parks, one each in Jammu and Srinagar to be established . Rural BPOs in all district headquarters to be established.

Under Back to Village Programme/Mission Youth initiative of the Government, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank has sanctioned 16,000 loans amounting to Rs. 260 crores, out of which, self-employment loan to 11,000 cases amounting to Rs. 175 crores has been disbursed.

During FY 2021-22 nearly 140,000 persons have been covered under various self-employment schemes of the Government.

The Government of Jammu and Kashmir has approved a business revival package of Rs.1352.99 crore on 25th September, 2020, which has direct bearing on creation of job avenues in J&K.

A new Wool Processing, Handicrafts and Handloom Policy 2020 has been adopted for promotion and development of Handicrafts and Handloom sector. Financial Support Scheme to the tune of Rs. 100,000 for each Cooperative/Self Help Group in the Handicrafts and Handloom Sector has been approved. Government has also approved a new Credit Card Scheme for providing a loan of INR 200,000 for Artisans/Weavers with interest subvention of 7% for five years.

SOCIAL INCLUSION

Social Security schemes have been expanded to include over 270,000 additional people. Transgender people have been added for the first time to provide them with pension benefits.

100 % saturation has been achieved in 17 individual beneficiary centric schemes, including Saubhagya (universal household electrification), Ujala (domestic lighting program), Ujjwala (LPG connections to deprived households) and Indradhanush (full immunization of children) schemes.

KASHMIR HANDICRAFTS

Kashmir is known for its handicrafts throughout the world. Its carpets, silks, shawls, basketry, pottery, copper and silverware, papier-mache, and walnut wood are most sought after. The cottage handicrafts industry provides direct and gainful employment to around 340,000 artisans. A new plan for global cooperation has been launched with Germany, one of the biggest patrons of Kashmiri handicraft, as the focus. These global initiatives are likely to be expanded to other countries in Europe.

HEALTH

Improvement in health services has been dramatic with national health schemes and projects establishing itself in far nook and cranny of the valley. National medical insurance schemes are now reaching even the most remote, and poorest, sections. Kashmir is the only Union Territory with universal health insurance coverage for up to Rs 5 lakh per family.

Besides premier medical institutes like All India Institute of Medical Sciences and Cancer Institute along with two new medical colleges in Udhampur are changing the health scene in Kashmir. Mega private hospitals are already planning to enter the state. The first one would be Apollo Hospitals which plans to set up a 250-bed hospital, an initiative which the hospital administration hopes would sow the seeds of Kashmir being known as a global health tourism destination.

Free and universal healthcare insurance scheme in J&K has been extended to all residents of the Union Territory. J&K has one of the highest budget allocation for healthcare sector (5%) in India. Seven new medical colleges and hospitals including 2 AIIMS, 2 cancer institutes, bone institutes and child hospitals are being established in J&K.

Jammu and Kashmir has been rated a front runner in Niti Aayog’s Sustainable Development Goals 3 (Good Health and well-being) after improving its score by 8 points between 2019-20 to 2020-21.

COVID CONTROL

J&K is one of the leading states/UTs in India in COVID-19 vaccination coverage, having fully vaccinated >99 % of its adult population.

Booster dose vaccination campaign for health care and frontline workers and elderly has been launched.

Special monthly pensions and scholarships to the families who have lost their bread winners to COVID-19.

EDUCATION

Scholarships at pre-matric (pre 10th standard/O level), post matric levels have been nearly trebled. 2 new AIIMS, 7 new medical college, 5 new nursing colleges and 2 state cancer Institute are being established in the UT. Seats for graduation in medicine (MBBS) have been increased from 500 to 1100.

IIT Jammu and IIM Jammu have been made functional.

50 new colleges are being established with additional opportunities to over 20,000 students.

Translation of text books in local languages of Dogri, Hindi, Kashmiri and Urdu for primary schools.

Two special Centers in Jammu and Srinagar for providing tutoring and guidance to students for civil services and other competitive examinations under the PARVAAZ Scheme. In addition, scholarship assistance will also be provided to students.

1,000 Atal Tinkering Labs are to be established in J&K of which 187 will be established by the end of FY 2021-22.

AGRICULTURE

The government of J&K has entered into an agreement with National Agricultural Cooperative Marketing Federation of India Ltd (NAFED) wherein NAFED will invest nearly 230 million USD into high density plantations of Apple, Walnut, Cherry, Pear over the next five years in order to increase produce.

Three cold storage clusters to be developed with the investment of INR 500 crores (67 million USD)

Kashmiri Saffron has been given the Geographical Indication (GI) tag

SPORTS

Perhaps the most visible change has been sports infrastructure livening up the horizon across the state and a galaxy of sportspersons becoming household names. From gymnastics to cricket, sports academies, tournaments and prizes have made remarkable progress, attracting thousands of young women and men towards sports. A violence-marred state is fast becoming a great sporting destination to look out for in the days to come.

INR 200 crore (26 million USD) have been allocated under Prime Minister’s Development Package for upgradation of sports infrastructure. Development of two Khelo India Centres of Excellence in Jammu and Srinagar.

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