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Speech Of Shri Satya Pal Malik, Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, At the NITI Aayog Governing Council Meeting

Speech Of Shri Satya Pal Malik, Governor of Jammu & Kashmir, At the NITI Aayog Governing Council Meeting 15 June 2019

 ? Hon’ble Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi ji

? Hon’ble Defense Minister, Shri Rajnath Singh ji

? Hon’ble Home Minister, Shri Amit Shah ji

? Hon’ble Finance Minister, Smt Nirmala Sitharaman ji

? Other Ministers of the Union Cabinet

? Hon’ble Chief Ministers

? Vice Chairman NITI Aayog

? Officers of the Central and State Governments

? Ladies and Gentlemen.

 

I thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our perspective from the state of Jammu & Kashmir, both on the agenda and on a few other issues of relevance to all

those present here.

2. Before I commence, let me on behalf of the people of Jammu & Kashmir, take this opportunity to congratulate Hon’ble Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, for the overwhelming mandate he has received in the recently held Lok Sabha elections. This convincing victory has given hope to the people of this troubled state that steps would now be taken to restore peace and normalcy and put the state back on the path of rapid development, like in the rest of the country.

3. Hon’ble Prime Minister, Jammu & Kashmir is a unique state in many ways. It has a very long international border and an LAC with two neighbours. It is a state which has been suffering from the ravages of armed militancy for almost 30 years now, mostly fed by external actors. Violence had become a way of life in some parts of the state, with people living under constant fear of terrorists and the government having to provide for their security. At times, the state has had to take hard measures to ensure that there is peace and normalcy.

4. The consequence of this militancy and violence has been that the state has had to suffer on the development front. It was a laggard on most parameters of development. Jammu & Kashmir was always at the bottom of any performance ranking. A state endowed with immense natural beauty and tourist potential, saw its tourism badly affected. Institutions of governance became rusty and blunted.

5. Ever since Governor’s rule was imposed almost exactly a year ago in June 2018, our attempt has been to provide deliver Good Governance and equitable development. At the same time, the battle against militancy has been taken to the door step of the militants who are now on the backfoot. After neutralising a record number of militants last year, the number of militants neutralised this year is over 110 and the pressure is palpable. Militants are choosing soft targets and not taking security forces head on. They are using IEDs and fidayeen attacks to shatter the morale of security forces, which is quite strong. Recruitment of new militants is coming down rapidly.

Last year, the Amarnath Yatra was conducted without any incident or death. We will, with the help of the Central Government, have an equally peaceful yatra this year as well.

6. The change however I see is that there is a sense of fatigue and a yearning for change all around. The common citizens are getting tired of all this turmoil and are now focusing on development and efficient governance. That is what we have been delivering over the last one year.

7. One of the biggest achievements of the state has been the empowerment of people through grassroots democracy. After a long gap, the state had elections to Urban Local Bodies in October and the second ever Panchayat elections in November- December. In spite of boycott calls by mainstream parties and the Hurriyat and death threats by militant organisations, people came out in droves to vote for local representatives.

The turnout was 74%. This was in a state which could not hold bye-elections to a Parliamentary seat two years earlier. All this was without any loss of life.

Today, the state has a vibrant Panchayat Raj and municipal system which is fully empowered with complete delegation of funds, functions and functionaries. There is an energy in the system which is palpable. People want to take charge of their development works at the local level and manage their affairs. The state is fully supporting this through legislative changes and administrative support. We are confident that the budding Panchayat Raj system will be the harbinger of change in J&K in future.

8. Hon’ble Prime Minister, it is this rise in people’s aspirations that is giving us hope for the future. People recognise the importance of peace for development. And as they gradually take things into their hands, matters will only improve.

9. People’s aspirations have however, placed an onerous responsibility on all of us to deliver on the promise of development. In order to further this effort, the state is organising a week long Back to the Village programme from 20th to 27th June 2019. All gazetted officers of the state will leave the comfort of their offices to stay in a Panchayat for two days. They will connect with Panchayat representatives, attend Gram Sabhas, see how government services are at the bottom, understand local needs and identify potential areas for improvement. This is a first in Jammu & Kashmir. We are new to this. But when I see the enthusiasm in my officers and the hope among the people, it gives me the assurance that the future is bright for grassroots democracy.

10. Hon’ble Prime Minister, Jammu & Kashmir is a state whose financial base is extremely weak. We depend a lot on the Central Government for our developmental needs. We are thankful to you Sir, for extending liberal financial assistance to support the efforts of the State Government in speeding up the the development process and rebuilding the state economy.

11. The massive Rs 80,000 crore Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) for Jammu & Kashmir has been of immense help. It has laid the foundation for reconstruction and rehabilitation of the state. In the last one year, the implementation of PMDP projects has speeded up phenomenally. In fact, whereas most projects had not taken off a year ago, almost all are progressing fast at the moment. Roads, bridges, flyovers, hospitals, educational institutions, and skill and livelihood programmes are moving ahead rapidly. All bottlenecks have been removed and there is an air of expectation among the people.

12. The state too has been taking initiatives on its own, outside of Central Government assistance. We have doubled the number of Colleges in the state from 98 to 200, an expansion which will have a long term impact. We have added over 240 High and Higher Secondary schools. The number of medical seats in the state have gone up from 500 to over 1000 in one year, probably a first for any state. We have set up 11 Nursing colleges, two Cancer Institutes, Children’s Super Speciality Hospitals, and so on. The state hopes to be a hub for medical tourism in the future with a Healthcare Investment Policy in place.

13. On infrastructure, Jammu & Kashmir had been suffering from badly planned and budgeted infrastructure projects, some languishing for 20 years or more. They were an eyesore, lying half complete. To address this problem, the State has set up a Jammu & Kashmir Infrastructure Development Finance Corporation (JKIDFC) and to raise Rs. 8000 crores of loans to complete languishing projects. Till date, 2,206 languishing projects in key sectors with an investment of Rs. 5,323 crore have been approved for funding through JKIDFC. These projects would be completed in the next 18 months. This initiative has been recorded as a best practice by the NITI Aayog.

14. We are developing Elevated High Speed Rail Corridors in Jammu and Srinagar. A state which has seen little planned development will now have satellite townships in Jammu and Srinagar. The regional aspiration of Ladakh has been fulfilled through the creation of a separate division for Ladakh, a Ladakh University and empowering the local Hill Councils which are now among the most powerful in the country. Soon Kargil will have full fledged commercial airport which will enable it to realise its full tourist potential.

15 We have also speeded up implementation of national Flagship programmes. The administrative system has been geared up to deliver results as in any developed state. And it is delivering. I am happy to say that the worst performing state in Swachh Bharat in February 2018 was declared ODF in September 2018 along with others. We have won a national award of Rs 100 crores for implementing Saubhagya before time and our approaches have been recommended to other states.

In Ayushman, we have been consistently ranked as the best performing state in the percentage of Gold Cards issued and we lead by a large margin. We are ranked in many places as one of the states with the best healthcare system now. We are proud that NITI has ranked J&K as the second best state in overall improvement of aspirational districts over the last year. And Baramulla is ranked as the second best district overall. I want to remind that we were absolutely at the bottom a year ago in performance. All this is being done in the most difficult circumstances created by militancy and also by natural calamities. Our officers, staff and the people are working together to show that they are no less than others.

16. The Central Government has stepped forward and helped in a large way. The two AIIMS in the state, the IIT, the two Ring Roads for the two capitals and the other educational and health infrastructure are slowly transforming the landscape. The Shahpur Kandi project and Ujh Multipurpose project will irrigate the entire Kandi belt of Jammu and still leave surplus waters for the state.

17. We are going ahead and organising an investment summit in October, once again a first for J&K. This may be routine elsewhere, but it shows the state is catching up. Preparations are going on for this, including setting up two world class IT parks.

18. One year has demonstrated that good governance and development are possible and can go hand in hand in J&K. The rule of law has been established. People are now enthusiastic about the future. The time has also come to reach out to the youth to enable them to enjoy the fruits of development fully. We will work in that direction and come up with new initiatives.

19. Hon’ble Prime Minister, I will now raise a few issues which relate to the agenda. We are doing everything we can to harvest rainwater and store runoff.

Provisions are being added to our municipal bye-laws for compulsory rainwater harvesting in buildings above a cut off. But more importantly, we are rejuvenating the Dal lake and the Wular lake which are the main water bodies in Kashmir. This is being done in a scientific and systematic manner at a fast pace.

Hon’ble Prime Minister has seen the change coming over Dal. By the end of July, Dal will have one of the most beautiful walkways with musical fountains. All houseboats are being fitted with bio-digesters. A project has been initiated for dredging Wular which will increase its holding capacity. A similar project is being done on Jhelum, the Phase 1 for which is complete. I request the Central Government to fund its share for the Wular, Dal and Jhelum Phase 2 projects which will save Srinagar and the valley from devastating floods of the type seen in 2014.

20. The state has also undertaken a programme for 100% piped drinking water supply to the entire state by 2022.

If only GOI assures us a flow of Rs 300 crores p.a. for 20 years, we will leverage that to finance this innovatively as we are doing for infrastructure and be the first state in the country to have 100% piped water supply.

21. Drought is not a problem in the state this year. Snowfall has been excessive and should help tide over any rainfall deficit. For controlling rainwater runoff, we are launching a Green J&K campaign next month which will increase tree cover. However, I would like to mention that there is a need to provide a little more flexibility in SDRF norms to permit more than 10% of funds to be used for equipment as we need a lot of both snow clearing and flood relief equipment. The state has spent negligible amounts of SDRF in the past and we have an acute shortage of equipment. This modification will help. Further, there is a huge backlog of MNREGA receipts from GOI which is causing stress in the system. Further, J&K had a special dispensation by which Land Acquisition cost was included in PMGSY projects. We would like that continued.

22. In Aspirational Districts, our two districts of Baramulla and Kupwara have leapfrogged in one year to become top performers, raising J&K to the second position overall. Here I would say that we have not availed of funds from the Challenge Method as we have neither the capacity nor the wherewithal to even contest for these funds. Something could be done about it.

23. In agriculture, the state is doing well and has ambitious goals. Doubling of farmers income cannot happen in J&K from agriculture alone but mainly through horticulture and animal husbandry. We are top producers of apple, saffron and walnuts and many other fruits. However, we are badly placed in the supply chain with extremely limited cold storages, logistics facilities, grading and packing plants, export infrastructure and even good mandis. Unfortunately, there are limited central funds for this. I seek greater Central help in supporting Horticulture, logistics, and other areas. The apple sector should be supported through High Density Plantations.

Investment in horticulture infrastructure, particularly relating to food processing, will unlock tremendous opportunities of employment within the state. Most importantly, the PM Fasal Bima Yojana for horticulture has not taken off in the state. We need help in that as bidders do not come to our state. We also seek early approval of the Ujh irrigation project whose waters are currently going waste but can irrigate 31,000 hectares.

24. Hon’ble Prime Minister, I have spoken earlier about security related issues. All that I can say is that J&K is a frontline state in the fight against militancy. I seek all support that is possible to strengthen our hands in this. A scheme such as the SCA given to LWE districts for militancy affected parts of J&K will be great help and fill critical gaps.

25. Lastly, I draw your attention to connectivity problems. The National Highway from Jammu to Srinagar has been a source of great inconvenience. Your officers have been helpful. But positioning people there full time on-site is essential so that this lifeline to Kashmir and Ladakh is always functional. The international airport at Srinagar should be on the scheduled international route map, even in a small way with ne flight to the East and one to the West each day. Foreign tourists to Kashmir have dried up. They do not like the inconvenience of changing flights. This simple measure will revive tourism in a very big way. Nature’s gifts to J&K should be for the whole world to enjoy.

26. Hon’ble Prime Minister, Jammu & Kashmir stands with the rest of the country as India aims to be a $ 5 trillion economy. We will work with the Central Government so that our people too enjoy the benefits of this great economic future that awaits the nation. That is the way

forward for all of us.

*Jai Hind*

 

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Disclaimer:Government of Jammu & Kashmir. Department Of Information & Public Relations.

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