Centre’s Public Outreach Phase-II by 40 Ministers in April 2nd week

Schedule, names to be finalized after budget session
*Shah, Rajnath, Nirmala may also join

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Feb 20: The Central Government will hold Phase-II of Public Outreach Programme by 40 Union Ministers to Jammu and Kashmir in the month of April soon after the completion of budget session of Parliament on April 3. Number of the 34 Ministers who were part of Phase-I of the outreach programme will also be visiting the Union Territory in the Phase-II but many new Ministers would also join.
“Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Surface Transport and National Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari could also be part of the Public Outreach Programme Phase-II but their visits will depend on availability of the time. A final decision on high-profile visits to Jammu and Kashmir in the month of April will be taken after the Parliament session,” official sources told the Excelsior.
They said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah will finalize names of 40 Ministers who will be part of Phase-II of the Public Outreach Programme as the Central Government believed that Phase-I of the outreach from January 18-24 had proved successful and the Government got first hand information of the problems and issues faced by the people especially in rural and remote areas of the UT.
“In the Phase-II, more focus will be on Kashmir divisions contrary to the Phase-I when only five out of 34 Ministers had visited the Valley while rest had confined their visits to Jammu region,” sources said, adding that few Ministers visited Kashmir in January in view of heavy snowfall and adverse weather conditions while in April weather will be fine there and roads will be clear to facilitate visits of the Ministers to hilly and far off areas.
According to sources, the Ministers, who had visited the Union Territory in Phase-I and will also be part of Phase-II, can take follow-up from the administration on their previous visits including progress on works identified by them while new Ministers would undertake visits to newer areas which couldn’t be visited by the Ministers in January.
Asserting that dates of Public Outreach Programme in Jammu and Kashmir Part-II haven’t been finalized as yet, sources said since budget session of the Parliament is resuming on March 2 after nearly 20-day break, it is scheduled to conclude on April 3 and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will finalize detailed schedule after the Houses are adjourned sine die.
“The Public Outreach Programme Phase-II could begin in second week of April,” sources said.
The Government is of the view that frequent visits by large numbers of Central Ministers to the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir would not only give boost to developmental works but also ensure their timely implementation as the administration and executing agencies will be under constant surveillance of the Union Ministers.
Apart from development, sources said, the Centre and State Governments were of the view that frequent visits by the Ministers to Jammu and Kashmir especially in rural, remote and hilly areas, will boost morale of the people and give feeling to them that the Governments were concerned about them and were taking their issues seriously.
The Ministers will assess the development initiatives undertaken by the Central Government as well as the UT administration on the ground and they will not talk about political issues, sources said.
They added that the Union Ministers by interacting with the locals will try to get first-hand information about the roads, healthcare facilities, power situation, functioning of academic institutions etc. in the UT.
As many as 34 Central Ministers had visited Jammu and Kashmir last month following a directive of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who wanted an honest assessment of the various welfare schemes being implemented there. A total of 36 Ministers were scheduled to visit the Union Territory but two of them couldn’t undertake the visit due to preoccupation in New Delhi and adverse weather conditions in Rajouri.
The Union Ministers have already submitted their feedback to the PMO and the Home Ministry on the implementation of various development schemes in Jammu and Kashmir.
There were two sets of feedback — one on the initiatives taken by the UT administration and the other on the Centre’s initiatives, sources said.
Most of the Central Ministers had stayed overnight at their respective places of visit such as Baramulla, Ganderbal, Doda, Poonch, Jammu etc.
In August last year, the Centre abrogated Article 370 provisions of the Constitution, which gave a special status to the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir, and bifurcated it into UTs — Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Since then, the Centre has been closely monitoring the on the ground implementation of various development programmes here.
Jammu and Kashmir is currently under the President’s rule.