From ‘Statue of Unity’, PM to make announcement for UTs on Oct 31

High-level meetings at PMO, MHA

*Foreign investment too on cards

Sanjeev Pargal

JAMMU, Oct 11: Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to make major announcements for upcoming Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh from the ‘Statue of Unity’ in Gujarat dedicated to Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel on his birth anniversary on October 31 coinciding with the day the two UTs will be formed.
Modi’s visit to Gujarat on October 31 to pay tributes to Sardar Patel at the ‘Statue of Unity’, which was unveiled last year, has been finalized, highly placed sources told the Excelsior and said the Prime Minister was likely to make certain important announcements for the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, which will come into existence the same day.
Sources said for second consecutive day today, the top brass in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) deliberated on possible package in multiple sectors for Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh Union Territories, which was likely to be announced by the Prime Minister.
Tourism, health and infrastructure development were the major sectors which were debated during the meetings at the PMO and the MHA for inclusion in the package being worked out for the two Union Territories.
It was, however, yet to be decided whether the existing Prime Minister’s Development Package (PMDP) will be part of fresh package or is allowed to continue after transition of the State of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
The decision in this regard will be taken before October 25, sources said.
“Foreign investment for Jammu and Kashmir also figured prominently during the meeting at the PMO and MHA,’’ sources said, adding that the Central Government was already in touch with some of the companies which have approached the Government for investments in J&K.
Various Indian companies as well as some State Governments have already shown their interest in investment in the Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh, sources said, adding representatives of the companies were keen to visit Jammu, Srinagar, Ladakh and some other places before finalizing their plans.
On the appointment of Lieutenant Governors for the two Union Territories, sources said, the decision will be finalized by the Union Home Ministry before October 25 as they have to take oath on October 31, the day the UTs will come into effect.
“Few names were under consideration,’’ they said, adding a proposal was also being discussed for making present Governor Satya Pal Malik as Lieutenant Governor of both the Union Territories subject to his consent.
“The Central Government was constantly in touch with J&K Government functionaries on various issues regarding smooth transition of the State into two Union Territories,’’ sources said, adding both Centre and State were likely to keep creation of the UTs a low key affair on October 31 in view of prevailing situation in the Kashmir Valley, which was gradually returning towards normalcy.
It may be mentioned here that the Central Government had on August 5 scrapped special Constitutional provisions of Jammu and Kashmir in the form of Articles 370 and 35-A and bifurcated the State into two Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh.